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Claiming Social Security on an ex-spouse's work record

An ex-spouse may be entitled to receive retirement benefits based on the earnings of their former partner. However, the marriage must have lasted for 10 years or more for this to occur. New Jersey residents might view this as an excellent way to supplement their wages, but it is important to act strategically. It might be necessary to pay back some benefits if an earnings limit is exceeded when benefits are being received.

An ex-spouse could claim benefits on the other party's account at 62 years of age while still working, but the yearly earnings limit is less than $16,000 for those who have not reached the full retirement age of 66. When full retirement age is reached, this limit is much higher, nearly $42,000. Claiming spousal benefits while exceeding the earnings limit could result in the repayment of up to half of the funds received.

Because individuals cannot receive both their full spousal benefit and their own full retirement benefit, it is ideal to claim the larger of the two amounts. Additionally, it is important to realize that waiting until age 70 allows for an 8 percent annual increase in the potential benefit from one's own Social Security account. A little planning and some strategic claiming could maximize one's benefit at various stages in the pre-retirement and retirement years.

Social Security benefits are not affected by the property distribution stage in divorce proceedings. However, other retirement benefits could be subject to property division laws, making it important to pay attention to a spouse's pension plan and other retirement accounts as a settlement is discussed. A lawyer may help in explaining how different funds could affect one's current and future financial standing.

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