Women and Social Security: How to Get the Biggest Check

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Women and Social Security: How to Get the Biggest Check


Women tend to fare worse financially than men after a divorce, but an ex-wife may be able to soften the shock by claiming a spouse’s or survivor’s benefit on her ex-husband’s work record.

“Many women who have spent years caring for their children divorce after decades of marriage,” said Michelle Petrowski, a certified financial planner in Scottsdale, Ariz., Who specializes in divorce matters. “They haven’t had the option of earning an income or donating to a 401 (k), and they’re relying on that benefit. “

For a divorced woman to be entitled to a spouse’s benefit, both spouses must be at least 62 years old and the marriage must have lasted 10 years or more. Unlike a married woman, a divorced woman can claim even if her ex-husband has not yet filed for benefits.

A divorced woman who waits until full retirement age can apply for a spouse’s benefit which will be 50 percent of her ex-spouse’s full benefit. The allowance is reduced by a certain percentage for each month she receives before that date.

This higher benefit can represent a large retirement fund for a woman whose marriage may have ended decades earlier.

Take the example of a woman whose total pension from the ex-husband is $ 2,400, said Dr. Reichenstein. His own full retirement benefit may be $ 800. If she applies for a spousal benefit at age 67, she will receive $ 1,200 per month, accumulating $ 259,200 at age 85. If she applies at age 62, her monthly benefit will be $ 830, down from $ 30,000 at age 85.

A woman who has two or more former spouses to whom she has been married for 10 years can choose the higher spousal benefit. And if one of the former spouses dies, she can upgrade to a larger survivor benefit. An ex-wife loses the spouse’s benefit once she remarries.

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