Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Divorce, Remarriage, and Social Security

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Similar to changes involved with getting married, you'll want to pay attention to how divorce and remarriage affect your Social Security. For instance, a name change must be reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order for your earnings to be properly reported, while remarriage will have an affect on survivor benefits. It's not too complicated, but make sure you take care of these things in a timely manner.

The following is a brief discussion of divorce, remarriage, and Social Security.

Changing Your Name on Your Social Security Card

If you change your name, be sure to tell both Social Security and your employer. This will assure that your earnings will be properly reported by your employer and recorded in our records. You can get a new card from Social Security with your new name. In order to prove your date of birth, you'll need to provide a copy of your birth certificate, final adoption decree, or other suitable documentation. You'll need a U.S. driver's license, state I.D., or passport to prove your identity.

How Divorce Affects Your Future Retirement Benefits

If you are divorced after at least 10 years of marriage, you can collect retirement benefits on your former spouse's Social Security record if you are at least age 62 and if your former spouse is entitled to or receiving benefits. If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse's record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment).

How Divorce Affects Survivors' Benefits

If your divorced spouse dies, you can receive benefits as a widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. However, you won't have to meet the length-of-marriage requirement if you're caring for your deceased ex-spouse's child who's under the age of 16 or disabled. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is 60 or older will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors receiving benefits.

Keep in mind that the family of your ex-spouse won't be notified if you apply for survivor benefits through the SSA. Also, there's no limit to how many people may apply for benefits from a single Social Security account.

How Remarriage Affects Survivors' Benefits

In general, you can't receive survivors benefits if you remarry before the age of 60 unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce, or annulment. If you remarry after age 60 (50 if disabled), you can still collect benefits on your former spouse's record. When you reach age 62 or older, you may get retirement benefits on the record of your new spouse if they are higher. Your remarriage would have no effect on the benefits being paid to your children.

Concerned About Divorce, Remarriage, and Social Security? Talk to a Lawyer

A divorce can affect a number of things in your life, even after you've passed away. From retirement benefits to changing your name on your Social Security card, it is important to understand the legal aspects of a marriage dissolution. Let an experienced divorce attorney in your state help you make the best decisions regarding divorce, remarriage, and Social Security -- putting your mind at ease.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified divorce attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution