Social Security Benefits In Michigan Divorce
Friday, 14 January 2011 09:59

Social Security Benefits 

Just the Right Timing May Entitle You to the Social Security Benefits of Your Spouse

If you've been thinking about filing for a divorce, it is important to know that your timing could be very important. Sometimes just a day or two could make a huge difference in the benefits that you are entitled to as a result of your marriage.

social-security-michigan-divorceA divorced spouse of a worker who is covered by Social Security may be entitled to benefits of his or her own based on the work history of the insured spouse. Social Security benefits are part of a federal retirement program. As such, the state court which handles your divorce proceeding will not have the authority to order a distribution of Social Security benefits between you and your spouse. Language regarding these benefits will not appear in your divorce judgment. However, this does not mean that your divorce and your ability to qualify for benefits based on your spouse's work history are mutually exclusive. The length of your marriage is a key requirement that must be met in order to qualify for divorced spouse benefits under the Social Security Act. The divorced spouse must have been married to the worker spouse for a minimum of ten full years before the divorce became final. This factor makes the timing of your divorce proceeding imperative if you are even within a year or so of reaching that requirement.

The date of significant importance with regard to Social Security benefits as related to a divorce proceeding is the date of entry of the final divorce judgment. Therefore, you don't have to be married for the full ten years prior to filing for divorce. However, you must be careful about when you begin your divorce proceedings if you are close to reaching that ten year mark. The approximate length of your divorce proceeding will depend on the specific facts of your individual case. On average, a divorce where minor children are involved will take about six months and a divorce without minor children will take at least sixty days. This means that in a divorce with minor children you could file to begin your divorce case just after your marriage reaches nine years and six months. However, the statutory waiting period in divorce matters can be waived if a Judge determines that is appropriate. That waiver could result in you falling short of reaching the ten year mark. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding this crucial timing detail before you file for divorce.

Timing of your divorce could tell the tale

While the timing of your divorce proceeding is one vital factor considered with regards to whether you are entitled to divorced spouse Social Security benefits, there are six factors in all that must be satisfied in order to qualify. A divorced spouse may be entitled to Social Security benefits based on the worker spouse's earnings record if ALL of the following requirements are met:

  1. The worker spouse is entitled to retirement or disability benefits through Social Security;
  2. The non-worker spouse files an application for divorced spouse's benefits;
  3. The non-worker spouse is not separately, based on his or her own earnings record, entitled to a retirement or disability benefit that is equal to or greater than what he or she would be entitled to as a divorced spouse benefit;
  4. The non-worker spouse is at least 62 years old (60 years old if the worker spouse is deceased);
  5. The non-worker spouse has not since remarried; and
  6. The non-worker spouse was married to the worker spouse for 10 years before the divorce became final. If all of these requirements are satisfied, the divorced spouse of a worker who is covered by Social Security may qualify for his or her own benefit of up to fifty percent of the worker spouse's benefit. This percentage could increase to one hundred percent upon the worker spouse's death.

For more information on your entitlement to divorced spouse's Social Security benefits, contact us at 248.356.0600.

Last Updated ( Monday, 28 April 2014 15:09 )

Latest Michigan Divorce Blog