Here’s another bizarre thing about Social Security: Getting a divorce could substantially increase your Social Security income. This applies to someone who has been divorced and remarried.
If your first marriage lasted at least 10 years before the divorce, Social Security allows you to claim a Spousal Benefit and a Survivor Benefit based upon the benefit amount for your ex-spouse.
A Spousal Benefit entitles a retiree to recieve up to 50% of their spouse’s or ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit at their full retirement age. In order to claim a Spousal Benefit as a divorcee, you can never re-marry.
A Survivor Benefit entitles a retiree to recieve their deceased spouses or ex-spouses Social Security benefit in place of their own. In order to claim a Survivor benefit as a divorcee, you cannot remarry before age 60. If you wait until age 60 to remarry and your ex-spouse passes away, you can still claim your deceased ex-spouse’s full Social Security benefit in the form of a Survivor Benefit.
Many divorced spouses are not aware of the Social Security rules concerning remarriage and that could end up costing them a lot of money. But they could correct their mistake by getting another divorce.
I know that sounds crazy but it is true. Here’s how it works:
If a divorced woman, whose first marriage lasted more than 10 years, were to remarry at age 58, she would no longer be able to claim either a Spousal or Survivor Benefit based on her ex-husband’s benefit amount.
Let’s look at the case in which she claims her own Social Security and receives a benefit of $1,200 per month and her ex-husband receives a monthly benefit of $2,200.
After twelve years, her ex-husband passes away and, because she remarried at age 58, she cannot claim her ex-husband’s full benefit in a form of a Survivor Benefit.
If she had waited until age 60 before she remarried, she would be able to switch to her ex-husband’s much bigger benefit of $2,200 per month and increase her annual income by $12,000. Getting remarried at age 58 ended up costing her a lot of money.
That would all change if the woman divorced her current husband. After the divorce she would no longer be married and would be eligible to claim a Survivor Benefit and receive his full monthly benefit of $2,200 per month.
Getting the second divorce could make her a lot of money, an extra $12,000 per year for the rest of her life.
This story can still have a happy ending because the twice divorced woman is now over the age of 60, so after claiming the Survivor Benefit she can remarry her second husband and continue to receive that Survivor Benefit from her deceased first husband.
Now that’s pretty bizarre!
For more information on how Social Security works for divorcees, you can check out the short video below or order my book. I have a whole section dedicated to this topic in Chapter 14 as well as tons of valuable information throughout the rest of the book you need to know before claiming.