Confusion About Divorced Benefits

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If you were married 10 years or longer, are currently single, having been divorced for two years, were born on or before January 1, 1954 and have not filed for your Social Security benefit, this article is about you and for you.

Divorced spouses, if they fall into the category above, have more claiming options than their married counterparts. One of the spouses in a married couple can file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits, if born on or before January 1, 1954. But the other party has to have filed for their benefits in order for this strategy to work.

This is not true with divorced couples. As long as your marriage lasted 10 years, has been legally dissolved over 2 years, each are still single, then each party is considered to be “independently entitled” spouses. What does this mean? It means that if both spouses are at least 62 years old, they can claim Social Security benefits on an ex’s benefits record even if the ex-spouse has not yet claimed benefits. So, the other benefit is that while the divorced spouses that qualify are filling off their ex-spouses’ benefit, their benefit is growing by 8% per year until they decide to file.

When did these rules change? Before 1985, divorced spouses were subject to the same requirement as a current spouse. That is, the worker had to apply for Social Security before a benefit was made available to his or her divorced spouse. It was determined by Congress that many ex-spouses were holding grudges against their former spouses and to keep them from applying for benefits off of their records, thus they were waiting until later to file instead of sooner. This caused great hardship for many ex-spouses, usually women. Instead of allowing these ex-spouses to have to file for public assistance and eliminating them being held hostage to their ex-spouses filing decision, the law was changed.

Now, if over age 62, and meeting all the other age and length of marriage and divorce requirements, this exception is in place for those that qualify.
Pillars LLC is in the Corinth, MS area but service all 50 states. Roy and Diane are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of over 40 years. You may contact them at, on their website at or call at 601-954-0699. KNOW before you GO!!

Divorced Exception to the Rule

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We received a phone call this week from a lady that wanted some clarification about something she had heard – this is a red flag to us because most of what people HEAR is fake news or not a legitimate rule of Social Security.  Anyway, she had been married for 8 years, divorced, and two years later married the same gentleman and that lasted 6 years.  She wanted to draw a Spousal Benefit from his benefit and HEARD that you had to be married 10 years to qualify.

Well – she was accurate about the 10 years, but it must be consecutive ten years.  The rule is worded as follows:

The standard divorce rules for Social Security say that if an individual was married for at least ten years to their spouse and then divorced, he or she is eligible to collect spousal benefits on the earnings of the ex-spouse as long as the recipient is currently single.

10 Year Rule:

This requirement is met if the divorce became final on or after the 10th anniversary of the marriage. This is so even if this period was interrupted by a prior divorce, provided the remarriage took place no later than the calendar year immediately following the calendar year of the divorce.

So, had she remarried the same gentleman within one year of the divorce, the exception to the rule would qualify her for benefits.  Unfortunately, this was not the case in her situation.

Again, be careful of what you hear and what you read.  Most of our readers take their taxes to an expert for be prepared because they get a better result.  Why?  Because these professionals are experts in their field and know the tax law.  Consider the same for your Social Security benefit.  Knowing the rules and regulations can offer you options that you were not aware existed. Why?  Because we are knowledgeable of the 2,728 rules and regulations.

Call Pillars LLC at 601-954-0699 and Roy and Diane will help you with these decisions and show you how to maximize your benefit and accomplish your personal goals.  They are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of 40+ years.  We are in Corinth but service all 50 states.

Divorced and the New Laws

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Divorced spouses were not affected by the new File and Suspend Restrictions if they meet the age restrictions. Even if an ex-spouse files and suspends his/her benefit, it will not affect the option of the former spouse to collect benefits on his/her earning record   BUT, both spouse and ex-spouses who turn age 62 after January 1, 2016, will lose their right to claim spousal benefits only on their mate or ex-mate’s earnings. These people will now be paid the highest benefit to which they are entitled, whether on their earnings or their spouses. They will not be able to file for only Spousal Benefits and allow their benefit to grow with Delayed Retirement Credits until age 70. That option will no longer be available starting in 2020 – this is when the last of those currently grandfathered in under the old law will reach their Full Retirement Age.

Pillars LLC will continue to remind our readers until the deadline of April 29, 2016 about the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2015. The new rules implemented for File and Suspend strategy are critical for the lifetime income stream of those turning age 66 by April 29, 2016, and for the spouses of those individuals. If you meet the age 66 deadline, you also create an option to collect a lump sum payout of suspended benefits. If someone requests to File and Suspend on or after April 30, 2016, he/she is subject to the new law. If his/her spouse or children were receiving benefits on his/her record, their benefits will STOP.

Anyone who is 62 or older by the end of 2015, including those who celebrated their 62nd birthday on January 1, 2016, can still file a Restricted Application for Spousal Benefits when they turn age 66. You do not have to do anything prior to age 66. Social Security’s practice considers a person attains his/her age the day before his/her actual birthday. PLEASE, if you don’t understand this law or need help with your choices about filing, do not hesitate to contact us – there is too much to lose!!

Confused…….it is very complicated. And to make matters worse, people are reporting to us conflicting comments and information given to them at the Social Security offices. This is your benefit and it is basically a permanent decision. Professional advice is strongly recommended. Pillars website is and our email is or you can contact us at 601-954-0699.