Can I Collect Social Security From My Ex-Spouse in California?

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When you and your spouse divorce, it can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you are an older adult. Many may discover they are financially dependent on their spouse, leaving them unsure of how to make ends meet until they can collect social security. However, you may be shocked to learn that under certain circumstances, you can be eligible to recover a portion of your spouse’s benefits. Keep reading to learn more about when you are eligible and why you should consider connecting with an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney to help guide you through these complex times.

Will My Ex’s Benefits Be Divided During a Divorce?

In California, it’s important to understand how assets are distributed during a divorce. The state follows community property laws, which means almost all assets obtained during the marriage are deemed marital property and are subject to equal distribution upon divorce. This is true regardless of each spouse’s contribution to the marriage.

While most retirement benefits are considered marital property and thus subject to equal distribution when the spouses divorce, under federal law, Social Security is considered separate property. As such, these benefits will not be split between the parties.

However, under certain circumstances, you may have derivative rights to Social Security payments from your ex-spouse’s benefits.

When Am I Eligible to Collect Social Security From My Ex?

As a divorced spouse who meets certain requirements, you are entitled to collect social security on behalf of your spouse. The following eligibility requirements apply:

  • You were married to your spouse for at least ten years
  • You are at least 62
  • Your ex-spouse is eligible to recover social security
  • You are unmarried

It’s important to understand, however, that eligibility depends on your unique circumstances. For example, if your spouse passes away, and you are disabled, you may be eligible to collect social security as early as when you turn 50.

You should also understand that if you collect on behalf of your spouse, you are entitled to half of the payment. When you reach retirement age, you cannot collect both your and your spouse’s social security. Instead, you are entitled to which ever payment is higher – your full amount or half of your spouse’s.

It’s important to understand that your ex-spouse will not know if you collect social security on their behalf. It does not lower or impact their payments in any way. Additionally, if they remarry, it does not impact your ability to recover benefits.

As you can see, there are many things you must keep in mind. At the Zitser Family Law Group, APC, we understand how complex these matters can be. That’s why our team is committed to fighting for the best possible outcome for you during these challenging times. Connect with us today to learn how we can fight for you when you’re going through a divorce.

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