Catch of the Day: Social Security

John Robinson |

The Intersection of Social Security, Retirement Claims, and Benefits After Divorce

A client who is approaching full retirement age brought in her social security earnings statement for me to review and upload to her document vault in eMoney. Because of her limited work history, the statement showed that she can expect to receive just $263 per month when she claims retirement benefits later this year at age 66. She was completely unaware that, as a divorced spouse who was married more than ten years, she is eligible to file a claim to receive 50% of her ex-husband's social security benefits. This "catch of the day" will provide her with approximately $15,000 per year of additional income.

Another client with a similarly paltry social security earnings statement was delighted to learn that, upon reaching social security full retirement age in 2020, she will receive 100% of her deceased ex-husband's social security benefits. In this case, her benefit is expected to be more than $30,000 per year!

Given that these benefits are not automatic and require the divorced spouse to specifically make the claim, these tales serve as tangible examples of the value a financial planner can provide. For more on this topic, see the following article links:

Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced (Social Security Admininstration)

Survivors Planner: If You're The Worker's Surviving Divorced Spouse (Social Security Admininstration)

Social Security Survivor Benefits After Divorce (

Will My Divorced Spousal Benefits Be Automatically Adjusted If My Ex Dies? (Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff, Maximize My Social Security)

Social Security Facts About Benefits for an Ex-Spouse (Dana Anspach,

Social Security And Divorce: What You Need To Know (