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Common Questions About Divorce and Social Security Benefits

 Posted on October 14, 2021 in Divorce

IL divorce lawyer Warrenville, IL

Getting divorced touches nearly every part of someone’s life: their finances, their relationships, and their children. It is natural for individuals in Illinois who are considering divorce, especially at a later age, to feel nervous about what could happen to their retirement prospects if they get divorced. Will everything I ever worked for be divided? Does this mean I will never be able to retire? 

Although many retirement benefits, such as pension plans and 401(k) accounts will need to be part of the asset division process, social security benefits are uniquely protected by federal law. Illinois divorce courts do not have the authority to handle social security payments. Fortunately, the federal government has clear and established provisions concerning social security benefits following a divorce. 

Are Social Security Benefits Divided In a Divorce? 

No. A divorce in Illinois or any other state cannot affect the personal benefits an individual will be able to receive once they retire. Neither will an individual’s social security benefits be lessened if a former spouse collects based on that individual’s work record. If, for example, a wife collects benefits based on her former husband’s work record, it will not affect the benefits the husband receives. 

Can I Collect My Benefits and My Ex’s Benefits? 

Nobody can collect benefits for more than one person. The benefits that an individual collects could be their own, or those of a former spouse, but not both. Whichever benefit is larger is the one an individual receives. If a spouse was married twice for at least ten years each time, he or she may be eligible to collect whichever spouse’s benefits are larger. 

Can Everyone Collect on Their Former Spouse’s Benefits? 

In order to collect benefits based on a former spouse’s work record, certain requirements must be met. The following requirements are determined by federal law and will not be affected in any way by a divorce settlement:

  • The marriage must have lasted for at least ten years, and spouses must have been divorced for at least two before the collecting spouse is eligible for spousal benefits 

  • The collecting spouse must be currently unmarried

  • The collecting spouse and former spouse must both be at least 62

  • The collecting spouse may not be simultaneously collecting their own, or anyone else’s benefits

Will I Automatically Get Social Security Benefits? 

No, benefits are not automatically conferred. Individuals wishing to collect benefits must apply through the Social Security Administration’s website, over the phone, or at a local social security office. They will need to provide important documents, including birth certificates, proof of U.S. citizenship, and the marriage certificate and divorce decree. 

Consult a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

If you are facing divorce, you likely have many questions about your financial future. An experienced Naperville, IL divorce attorney with Calabrese Associates, P.C. can help you understand how divorce is likely to impact your finances, including potential social security payments. We will work hard to advocate on your behalf and ensure you receive an equitable portion of your divorce settlement. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 630-393-3111



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