Divorce and Social SecuritySubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on June 6th, 2019
You may not be old enough to know who Ward and June Cleaver were.
For those of you, who are, bear with me as I fill in the younger folks (or the ones that chose not to watch mindless TV in the 60's)
Ward and June had two boys, Theodore (also known as "Beaver") and his older brother Wally. The show, "Leave it to Beaver" was a family show that, by today's standards, was pretty unrealistic.
The Cleavers lived in a nice house in the suburbs, Ward (We aren't really sure but I think he was an engineer) and June was a stay at home mom. (Known back then as a housewife).
So, the question I pose is, "If Ward and June divorced, would June be entitled to a Social Security benefit?"
Well like most things we write about here, it depends.
First some facts:
- June had no earned income of her own
- June was 56 and Ward was 59 when they divorced
- Ward paid into the Social Security system from age 24 until he retired at 65
- Ward married his secretary shortly after the divorce
Is this enough to go on? Nope. Here's the scoop:
To be eligible for a Social Security benefit of one's ex-spouse, (by the way. Back in 1939, they called this benefit a "divorced wife" benefit as many women did not work outside the home.)
- First, one must be married at least 10 years before divorcing.(An interesting quirk is you can be married and divorced, remarry and divorce again from the same person as long as the total years married add up to at least 10).
- The ex-spouse collecting a benefit cannot be remarried
- You cannot be eligible for a higher benefit on your own record unless a certain special rule applies
- You must be at least age 62 when filing
So, in our story of Ward and June, they were married for 33 years so they pass that test. June was pretty distraught after Ward ran off with the secretary that remarrying was the furthest thing from her mind so we pass that test as well. She didn't work outside the home so there were no issues with worrying about her own benefit. So far so good. Lastly, one must be at least 62 to collect. Since June was only 56, she was not entitled to collect a benefit. Not yet that is. Once she turns 62, she would be eligible.
So, how much would June receive when she does start collecting? She would be entitled to 50% of Ward's Primary insurance amount. Let's say Ward could receive $2,200. June would get $1,100.
Here's where things could get better though. If Ward passed away and June did not remarry before age 60, she would receive 100% of Ward's benefit and not the 50%.
There are lots of twists and turns in this area so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
We are here to help.
All the best.
Rick Fingerman, CFP®
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client. Information herein includes opinions and source information that is believed to be reliable. However, such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.