I raised my kids alone and my ex has tried to spoil my life. Can he declare a few of my Social Safety?

By Jim Blankenship

Today we have a question from a reader who is concerned about whether her ex-spouse can somehow take a portion of her Social Security benefit:

Hello, I hope you can help. I have been divorced since 1981, after being married 12 years. I brought up my children alone with zero child support during that time. Interesting, the child support department of our state located him after 20 years. Awarded me $xa month for several years.

My worry is that as an ex-spouse he can file for benefits from me. I don’t know if he has remarried. He has tried to ruin my life but it’s not going to happen. How much of my benefit can he get? I practically live on Social Security so hoping it’s not a big amount.

Technically the answer to your question is that, yes, it is possible for your ex-spouse to receive Social Security benefits based on your record. Whether he actually will receive those benefits depends on a few factors.

If his own benefit from Social Security, based upon his own earnings record, is greater than 50% of your unreduced Primary Insurance Amount (the amount you would receive if you started benefits at your Full Retirement Age), then he is not eligible to receive a spousal benefit based on your record.

If he has remarried and remains married, he also will not be eligible for spousal benefits based on your record.

In addition, if he is receiving a pension from a government entity, this will most likely reduce the amount of spousal benefit he can receive.

So that’s the technical response to your big question.

However, I think the bigger question that you’re asking is whether his filing for benefits based on your Social Security record will have any effect on your own benefit. And the good news is that no, this should have no impact at all on your benefits, no matter what amount of spousal benefit he may or may not be eligible to receive. Spousal benefits, whether paid to a current spouse or an ex-spouse, never reduce your own Social Security benefits.

Another factor that could apply in your situation is that if he still owes child support, this could be garnished from a Social Security benefit that he’s receiving. Details on this can be pretty complicated so you’ll need to follow up with your state to determine whether it applies to you.

It’s not included in your question, but an additional factor I’d like to mention is that an ex-spouse receiving benefits does not impact the Family Maximum benefit for your other beneficiaries. So for example, if you also had a current spouse and a child under age 18 who are both eligible for benefits based on your record, your ex-spouse’s receipt of benefits based on your record would not have an effect on your current spouse’s and child’s benefits.

Do you have questions about retirement, Social Security, where to live or how to afford it at all? Write to [email protected] and we may use your question in a future story.

-Jim Blankenship

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11-18-22 1650ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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