There is often a lot of confusion about Social Security benefits, particularly obtaining benefits based on a family member’s work history. While it may be complicated, Texans are able to obtain Social Security benefits from their ex-spouses. Every case is different, but there are general requirements a person must meet in order to qualify for their ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits. Below are explanations that can help a Texan begin the Social Security process, along with important qualifications to keep in mind.
What Are Social Security Benefits?
Social Security benefits are given to qualified retirees, along with their spouses, children, and survivors. Social Security benefits are based on a person’s lifetime earnings—therefore, people who earned more over their working years will receive more in benefits after their retirement. This is why spouses—or even ex-spouses—who earned less income may try to qualify for their partner’s benefits instead.
Qualifications to Receive Ex-Spouse’s Social Security Benefits
An individual does not need an ex-spouse’s permission to apply for Social Security benefits under their ex-spouse’s work history. This is because what they receive has no impact on their ex-spouse’s overall benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, a divorced individual whose marriage lasted 10 years or more can receive benefits on their ex-spouse’s record if: (1) the individual seeking to obtain the benefits is unmarried; (2) they are 62 years of age or older; (3) the ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and (4) the benefit the individual is entitled to receive is less than the benefit they would receive based on the ex-spouse’s work.
Additionally, it does not matter if the ex-spouse has remarried; the individual can still obtain their benefits. However, if the ex-spouse is not currently claiming the benefit, the pair must be divorced for two years of more to be eligible.
How Much of a Person’s Social Security Benefits Can an Ex-Spouse Receive?
If a person fulfills the above criteria, the individual will be entitled to half of their ex-spouse’s full benefit amount. As mentioned above, the 50% benefit must exceed the amount the person would be entitled to receive based on their own work record. Similarly, if the ex-spouse has passed away, the individual is still able to obtain social security benefits like those of a widow or widower—as long as the marriage lasted for at least 10 years.
Because social security benefits can often be confusing—along with determining how much of another person’s benefits someone can receive—individuals navigating this process should reach out to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is attempting to plan their retirement using social security benefits, call the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. We assist Texans with any and all estate planning issues to ensure their future is secured. Our dedicated team has decades of experience in estate planning, and we are standing by no obligation consultations. To schedule your appointment to talk with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, call us at 713-333-8900.