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Social Security options after a marriage ends

When married couples in Arizona split up, Social Security benefits will not necessarily be immediately impacted. If an individual who is at least 62 years old was married for 10 years or more, they may be able to collect benefits on an ex's record as long as they are also unmarried. Their ex must also be entitled to benefits, and those benefits must be more than what they would be entitled to receive.

As long as a former spouse is at full retirement age, they may be entitled to half of their ex-spouse's full Social Security benefits. This amount is adjusted accordingly if a former spouse opts to collect at the minimum age of 62. Even if an ex hasn't applied for benefits, their former spouse may still collect if they've been divorced for at least two years.

Benefits from an ex's record are typically stopped once a former spouse remarries. However, if a new marriage ends in divorce, annulment or the new partner's death, it may be possible to collect on the previous spouse's record again if their benefits are still higher. If a former spouse marries and divorces more than once and those subsequent marriages last for at least 10 years each, benefits may be claimable based on whichever former spouse has the highest benefits. But it's only possible to collect Social Security benefits on one ex's record.

Because there are many factors that can affect what a spouse is entitled to when a marriage ends, it may be wise to partner with a divorce attorney. Legal counsel might consult with an accountant or financial adviser to help a soon-to-be-ex determine what marriage-related assets are available. If Social Security benefits alone aren't enough to sufficiently allow a former spouse to live on their own post-divorce, an attorney may also recommend seeking spousal support.

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