How Does Divorce Affect Social Security and Retirement?

How Does Divorce Affect Social Security and Retirement?Navigating a divorce with an impending retirement can be stressful. We all know divorce can be costly, but can it put your retirement at risk? And how does divorce affect social security benefits? These questions are essential to answer for those nearing retirement as their life plans and financial outlook undergo dramatic transformations.


Social Security Benefits


Social security is something many people factor into their retirement income. As we near closer to retirement, we begin to count on those funds being available when the time comes. But many don’t know how divorce affects social security benefits and worry if divorce means they will have to delay retirement. The rules on social security benefits after divorce are relatively straightforward. In general, you can collect social security benefits under your spouse’s name if you meet the following criteria:


  • You have not remarried
  • You are at least 62 years of age
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to social security retirement or disability benefits, and
  • The benefit you’d received based on your work is less than the benefit you would receive if claimed under your spouse’s name


Eligible Benefits


If you meet these criteria, your benefits will equal one-half of what your spouse is eligible for, and your benefits will have no bearing on what your spouse receives. You cannot collect on your ex-spouse’s social security benefits if you remarry, but you can still collect on those benefits if your spouse remarries. You will still be subject to the benefits earning limit, and any pensions not based on social security work could affect your social security benefits. If your spouse has not yet applied for social security benefits but qualifies, you can still collect benefits under his or her name if you have been divorced at least two years. This is an important caveat because it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to be difficult by delaying benefits and compensation to limit what the ex-spouse can collect.


When nearing retirement and going through a divorce, it’s imperative you work closely with a highly experienced New Jersey divorce attorney. An attorney can evaluate your finances—both present and future—holistically and help you devise a way to protect your retirement while meeting your financial obligations from the divorce. Proceeding with your divorce without legal guidance can result in delayed retirement, loss of benefits, or ongoing tax complications.

If you have questions about divorce and retirement in New Jersey, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced divorce attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can aggressively protect your rights and your financial best interests. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.



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