The Social Security Benefits You Didn’t Know About

Samantha Miller
  • A shocking 38% of adults aged 50 and older are unaware of divorce benefits within Social Security, a hidden gem that could substantially enhance their retirement income.
  • To access these benefits, individuals must meet specific criteria, including being at least 62 years old, having been married for at least a decade, and not currently being married. Waiting until your full retirement age to claim can maximize these benefits.
  • Understanding the nuances of Social Security, including divorce benefits, can make a world of difference in retirement planning, potentially adding hundreds of dollars to monthly income and providing a valuable financial cushion for a more comfortable retirement.

In the realm of retirement planning, Social Security stands as an essential pillar of financial stability. It’s a lifeline for millions of older adults, ensuring a steady stream of income during their golden years. Most are aware of the primary retirement benefits, which are typically based on your work history and the number of years you’ve contributed to Social Security.

But did you know that there’s a hidden gem within the Social Security system that many older adults are oblivious to? A special type of benefit that can significantly bolster your monthly checks and pave the way for a more comfortable retirement. We’re talking about divorce benefits.

The Hidden Gem: Divorce Benefits

A startling revelation from a 2023 survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute showed that a staggering 38% of adults aged 50 and older are unaware of the existence of divorce benefits within the Social Security framework. Even more surprising, an additional 14% mistakenly believe that divorced spouses aren’t entitled to any extra Social Security benefits. This ignorance could be costing them dearly, as these benefits can make a substantial difference in their financial well-being.

Understanding Divorce Benefits

So, what exactly are divorce benefits? Simply put, they are a form of Social Security benefit that divorced individuals may be entitled to receive based on their ex-spouse’s work record. These benefits are a lifeline for those who meet the following criteria:

  1. You can’t currently be married.
  2. Your marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years.
  3. You must be at least 62 years old.
  4. If you’ve been divorced for fewer than two years, you can’t begin claiming until your ex-spouse has filed for benefits.

Importantly, claiming Social Security based on an ex-spouse’s work record will not affect their benefit amount, nor will it impact any spousal benefits their current partner may be entitled to receive.

Related: Don’t Leave Money on the Table: Data Points to Age 70 for Optimal Social Security Payouts

The Dollars and Cents: How Much Can You Collect?

Now, let’s talk numbers. The maximum amount you can receive in divorce benefits is 50% of the amount your ex-spouse is entitled to at their full retirement age (FRA). Even if you’re already entitled to Social Security based on your own work record, you can still receive divorce benefits if your payment is less than what you’d collect based on your ex-spouse’s record.

For instance, let’s say you’re eligible for $900 per month based on your own earnings. Your ex-spouse is set to receive $2,000 per month at their FRA. In this case, your maximum divorce benefit is $1,000 per month, as it’s the higher of the two amounts. However, if you were already receiving $1,200 per month based on your own earnings, you wouldn’t qualify for divorce benefits.

To maximize your divorce benefit payments, it’s advisable to wait until your own FRA to file for Social Security. Claiming early, as early as age 62, will result in reduced payments each month.

Maximizing Your Social Security: A Financial Strategy

Social Security can be a significant source of income in retirement. If you’re divorced, these often overlooked divorce benefits could potentially add hundreds of dollars more to your monthly income. Even if you’ve never worked and aren’t entitled to your own benefits, meeting the eligibility requirements for divorce benefits can provide a financial cushion in your retirement years.

In a world where retirement savings often fall short, understanding the intricacies of Social Security, including divorce benefits, can make a world of difference. By seizing this opportunity, you can secure a more financially comfortable retirement, turning Social Security into a true financial lifeline.

Related: Social Security’s Looming Crisis: What You Need to Know

The Untapped Wealth: $21,756 Social Security Bonus

For many Americans, the prospect of retirement savings can be daunting, with a significant number lagging behind on their financial preparations. However, a handful of lesser-known “Social Security secrets” could unlock a considerable boost in your retirement income.

For instance, a simple yet effective strategy could potentially increase your annual Social Security benefits by as much as $21,756. Discovering how to maximize your Social Security benefits could empower you to retire confidently, with the financial peace of mind we all aspire to achieve.

In conclusion, as you navigate the complex landscape of retirement planning, remember that Social Security offers more than meets the eye. Divorce benefits, often hidden in plain sight, can significantly augment your retirement income.

Don’t be among the 38% who miss out on this valuable resource; take the time to explore your eligibility and make informed decisions to secure a brighter financial future.

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Samantha Miller is a business and finance journalist with over 10 years of experience covering the latest news and trends shaping the corporate landscape. She began her career at The Wall Street Journal, where she reported on major companies and industry developments. Now, Samantha serve as a senior business writer for, profiling influential executives and providing in-depth analysis on business and financial topics.
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