As more and more people are divorcing in the latter decades of their lives, Social Security benefits for divorced spouses are becoming an increasing popular topic of discussion. Many people don't even realize that they may be entitled to these benefits.
There are two different types of Social Security spousal benefits for which you may qualify even if you and your spouse are no longer married. However, there are important restrictions that may affect some decisions you make after your divorce.
If your ex-spouse dies, you may be able to claim benefits as a survivor if the two of you were married for at least ten years. However, that ten-year restriction doesn't apply if you are still caring for any of your ex-spouse's children. Those children must be younger than 16 unless they are disabled.
If you remarry at an age younger than 60, you can't claim survivor benefits. Those who wait until they're 60 to remarry can claim them. It's important to note that in that case, you can only claim them for one ex-spouse.
You may also be able to collect spousal benefits if your ex is still alive as long as you were married for at least ten years and you haven't remarried. If you do remarry and that marriage ends, either through divorce or death, you can once again claim spousal benefits based on what your first (or previous) ex paid into the system.
In many cases, these benefits can prove to be a significant and vital source of income. That's why it's important to know just what you are entitled to receive. It may be worthwhile in some cases to avoid or postpone a remarriage. It's wise to seek sound financial and legal advice before making any big decisions that could impact those benefits.
Source: The Motley Fool, "The 2 Surprising Social Security Benefits That Some Divorced Spouses Can Get," Dan Caplinger, Sep. 04, 2016