Effective November 2, 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 changed Social Security rules for claiming spousal benefits. Prior to these changes, an ex-spouse could file for spousal benefits once their ex-spouse turned 62 years old, regardless of whether their ex-spouse was collecting benefits. Under the new law, an ex-spouse cannot file for the spousal benefit unless their ex-spouse is actively collecting benefits.
For ex-spouses with existing animosity, this could make things worse. An ex-spouse could effectively block their ex-spouse from receiving a much needed spousal benefit by not collecting benefits themselves. This could also create animosity where none existed between ex-spouses. Early retirement may not be economically feasible for an ex-spouse. But, without ill intentions, by delaying filing, the ex-spouse leaves their ex-spouse without the ability to collect the spousal benefit.
For couples contemplating divorce, this could add a new topic for negotiating. The parties could agree to a time that each party must begin collecting social security benefits. These terms should be specified in a settlement agreement.
For more information, contact Family Law attorney, Miles J. Murphy III, at (616) 458-3994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.