Tag: Social Security Benefits on Divorce
Brick and Sea Girt Divorce Attorneys Help You Achieve Financial Freedom
Social Security benefits are distributed in a divorce and orient toward financial freedom in the wake of a divorce.
The ins and outs of divorce are complex and often complicated, especially where New Jersey state law relates to divorce and intersects with federal law regarding the distribution of government benefits. One example is in the case of Social Security benefits.
How are Social Security benefits distributed after a divorce?
According to Section 202 [42 U.S.C. sec 402] of the United States Social Security Act, a spouse or divorced spouse of a person receiving Social Security benefits is entitled to a share of those benefits. Of course, there are conditions to distribute government benefits, and these are collectively known as the Social Security Ten Year Rule.
The Social Security Ten Year Rule reflects the Social Security Act’s mandate that a couple must have been married for at least 10 years for the spouse to be eligible to receive a share of the entitled party’s old-age benefits. This calculation of the ten-year period is laid out in the section of the Social Security Program Operations Manual entitled “Divorced Spouses.” According to this section, the marriage officially begins on the day of marriage. It ends on the day the court finalizes the divorce, not on the day that the Complaint for Divorce is filed with the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part. This federal law notes that the ten-year period after which a person is eligible to receive a share of an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits may be truncated by divorce, as long as a legal remarriage occurred. The Ten-Year Rule goes into effect two years after the marriage’s finalization lasting at least 10 years. This means that an ex-spouse can begin receiving a share of the benefits only after the divorce is two years old.
Additionally, the spouse or ex-spouse must abide by additional criteria:
- The spouse/ex-spouse must apply with the federal Social Security Administration.
- The working spouse must be at least 62 years old.
- The ex-spouse cannot be remarried (in the case that the spouse and the qualifying Social Security recipient are divorced).
- The spouse/ex-spouse cannot have accrued more Social Security benefits than the eligible partner.
A ‘share’ of the benefits does not mean that Social Security benefits constitute part of the fair and equal distribution of assets in a divorce. According to New Jersey Statutes N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, because it is assumed that alimony, or spousal support, payments terminate when the working ex-spouse reaches full retirement age, it is unlikely that Social Security benefits will be included as part of the support.
Establishing financial freedom after divorce
Regardless of your age or how long you were married when you decide to divorce, there are ways that you can begin to establish a financial footing in the presence of an oncoming divorce. The first way to orient yourself towards financial freedom is to separate your income from your spouse. Because there are many ways in which income comes to the marital household, from one spouse earning the entirety or significant portion of the marital income to both spouses earning near-equal incomes, separating the incomes will bring clarity about what one can expect will be their spousal-support and/or child support duties or the length for which they can expect to receive such support. Having a clear understanding of each spouse’s separate financial positions allows for discernment in the next steps taken personally, professionally, and financially. If you choose to invest in a financial consultant during this time, they will be able to advise you on how to grow a financial portfolio to support the transition and your financial future through investments and benefits from your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, as outlined above.
Just as separating incomes provides clarity, separating tax filings will also help you to make informed decisions moving forward. Because moving from filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service together with your spouse – which saves the household money – to filing as ‘Single’ on tax returns means the person will be responsible for paying more in taxes, wasting no time in making this move will provide foresight that will allow you to augment your financial decisions appropriately.
Contact a Wall Township, NJ Finance, and Divorce Law Attorney to Build a Plan for Life after Divorce
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our team of experienced family law attorneys supports clients Toms River, Point Pleasant, Wall, Jackson, and the surrounding areas in all matters of divorce, including Social Security benefits distribution and other assets division.
To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced member of our team regarding your divorce, please feel free to fill out the online form or call our Brick or Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Divorce and Social Security Benefits Attorneys in Brick and Sea Girt NJ
Serving clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties
Divorce can be financially devastating to individuals who have been married for a significant amount of time. When considering an alimony agreement during divorce or civil union dissolution litigation, it is important to anticipate your eventual retirement and the potential income stream available to you. With today´s post-divorce life expectancy easily exceeding two decades, whatever amount is finally decided upon, should be sufficient enough to enable you to survive comfortably while still working and throughout retirement.
Retirement assets are subject to equitable distribution between spouses during a divorce. In New Jersey, older couples who have been married for over 10 years may be able to receive a portion of their former partners’ Social Security, pension, and if applicable their military retirement benefits.
At Bronzino Law with offices in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, our family law attorneys have extensive specialized knowledge to discuss, draft and finalize marital agreements of all kinds, and to properly address the issue of alimony in New Jersey.
Collecting Social Security Benefits After a Monmouth County Divorce
In the event of divorce, divorced spouses may still collect Social Security benefits based on their former spouse’s work record, if they are:
- 62 years or older,
- entitled to Social Security benefits, and
- not receiving a higher social security benefit based on their own work history.
Brick Lawyers Help Determine The Start of Federal Eligibility for Benefits
Under federal law the ten-year period “clock” begins running the day marriage becomes valid and ends on the day the divorce is final; which is generally the day the court grants the divorce. Technically, it is possible to remarry the same person and still be eligible, if the time in the first marriage and the second marriage both add up to ten years.
How do I apply to receive an Ex-Spouse`s Social Security?
Applying for benefits can be a relatively simple process. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov and submit the following required documents to prove that you are entitled to receive your ex-spouse’s benefits:
- Birth certificate/proof of birth.
- Proof of citizenship.
- W-2 forms or self-employment tax forms from the previous year.
- Copy of the marriage certificate.
- Copy of the final divorce decree.
Can Early Retirement impact my Benefits?
If one spouse retired before the age of 65, a New Jersey court will consider the reasonableness of the retirement and the retiring spouse’s motivation, in order to balance the interests of the retired person against the interests of the spouse needing support.
A spouse who retired early, as a result of health concerns, extreme physical demands of their former job, or due to a large financial incentive, may not necessarily have to pay alimony at the pre-retirement level, especially if the reduction on the supported spouse may be minimal.
Will I still receive Social Security Benefits if my ex-spouse is deceased?
If your ex-spouse has passed away, you can still receive any benefits that they might have accrued under Social Security, if you two were married at least 10 years. In some circumstances (i.e., a disability) it may also be possible to collect the benefits earlier, at age 60 or even younger, at age 50.
Can I Still Receive Benefits if Married a little under 10 years?
- you actively care for your ex-spouse’s children,
- the children are disabled or under 16 years of age,
- the children can receive child support benefits based on your ex’s work record,
- the benefits you receive are payment in exchange for caring for the children, and
- the benefits you receive will end once the youngest child turns 16.
In addition, if you had been married 9 years when a divorce complaint is filed, and the divorce decree is issued six months later, neither marital partner can claim 50% of their ex-spouse´s social security benefits because the length of the marriage will be 9.5 years or 6 months short of eligibility.
Contact Ocean County Divorce and Social Security Lawyers Today
The timing of and approaches to divorce and division of assets can become very complicated. It is important to consult a divorce attorney who is experienced in divorce law and who understands how divorce can affect your income and benefits options for the long term—including those related to income generation after retirement.
In any divorce, there is a great deal of uncertainty. Questions about alimony often compound unresolved issues about your future, your rights, and your responsibilities. Fortunately, with a seasoned divorce attorney on your side, you can make informed, confident decisions that best serve your interests.
Contact the Monmouth law offices of Peter Bronzino at 732-812-3102 today, to understand your available options. One of our New Jersey divorce attorneys will answer your questions and provide you with a cost-free initial consultation.