But I Paid Alimony, Why Should My Former Spouse Be Able to Collect My Social Security?

Alimony and Social Security are not intermingled, and someone’s payment of alimony does not determine positively or negatively one’s ability to collect Social Security benefits.  A spouse who is ordered to pay alimony to their former spouse at the conclusion of a divorce, will still be able to receive 100% of the social security benefits allocated to them based on their former employment history, at the time they elect to collect.  Additionally, the supplementation of a former spouse’s income, by Social Security benefits, is one triggering event for the possible termination of alimony payments.

Generally, for married couples, a spouse who never worked and never paid into the social security system, may be eligible for benefits if they are at least 62 years of age and the supporting/working spouse is receiving retirement or disability benefits. Both parties to the couple can also qualify for Medicare at age 65.

There are some slight differences when a couple, who was together for 15 plus years, are now divorced, both are retired, and are both seeking to collect Social Security benefits. Once divorced, even your former spouse never paid into the social security system, they can still receive benefits resulting from your payment into the system, if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
  • Your ex-spouse is unmarried.
  • Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older.
  • The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

These circumstances apply even if you are re-married!

You can find more details on the Social Security Administration Retirement Benefits Website here: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/applying7.html

So, the question becomes, how much is your former spouse paid and is that amount deducted from your benefits? No!  As the working spouse, you will receive your full (100%) social security benefits and your former spouse will separately receive a sum equal to 50% of the benefits available to you. But the benefits to your former spouse are not deducted from your benefits.  Instead, social security is paying what amounts to 150% of the total available benefits under these circumstances.

It is, therefore, a myth that the payment of alimony has anything to do with the collection of Social Security benefits. It is also a myth that a working former spouse’s Social Security will be reduced if their former spouse starts collecting at the same time that they do. However, knowing how the collection of Social Security by both former spouses will affect alimony payments is an extremely fact sensitive inquiry and requires the guidance and attention of a dedicated family law attorney.

If you are considering terminating your alimony obligation because you are now receiving social security benefits, or you received a motion to terminate your receipt of alimony, and need an attorney who can effectively represent you through every step you can count on Shane and White, LLC. We proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey as they navigate divorce and family law post-judgment matters. Please contact us at 732-819-9100 or info@shaneandwhite.com.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This website is designed to provide general information only, and does not represent the opinions of Shane and White, LLC attorneys. The information is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up to date with recent legal developments, verdicts or settlements. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your specific facts/circumstances/case. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and emails, but note that contacting us alone does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you would like advice regarding your individual situation, you should contact Shane and White, LLC. to schedule a consultation to obtain legal advice. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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