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Social Security Benefits in a Texas Divorce


The number of divorces increases not only between young couples but also with the older ones aged 50 to 60 years old. One of the issues tackled in divorce proceedings of the latter age group is the ability of the ex-spouse to receive social security benefits from their former partner.

Divorce can be a financially draining process and the costs are bolstered if one of the spouses are either retired or almost at the retirement age.  The amount of social security benefits that one will earn at retirement is largely dependent on the length of their work period and the total amount of money they have earned during the course of their career. The taxes one pays for social security acts as an insurance that a person can later on claim after his retirement.

Those people who are disabled, the stay at home parents, and the like, are at a disadvantage because they have never paid taxes for social security.

Regardless of how much income one has earned during their lifetime, it is important to be aware of the effects of divorce on one’s social security benefits.

If one does not qualify for social security benefits because they did not work long enough during their lives, there is still a possibility for them to collect benefits. This will be on the basis of the work history of their ex-spouse.

However, this is not an easy process because following a strict proceeding is required.

The strict requirements are the following:

  1. Both spouses must be beyond 62 years old;
  2. They must have been married for at least 10 years;
  3. They must have been divorced for at least two years; and
  4. The spouse who is considered to be non-earning must not be married at the time of the application for social security benefits under the earning spouse.

There is no need to ask for the permission of the earning spouse before the non-earning spouse applies for the benefits under the former’s social security.

If the earning spouse passes away, the non-earning spouse may be permitted to collect on almost 100% of the former’s stake in social security, provided that the latter is beyond 62 years of age, have been married to the deceased spouse for more than 10 years, and is not married to another during the application for the benefits.

The collection of benefits on the deceased spouse can be done as early as 50 or 60 years old, if the other spouse survives the deceased spouse and is not in a good health condition or is disabled.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at timothy.hutton@austintexaslegal.com

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