Some people in Texas might not realize that they may be able to draw Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s contributions. The agency generally does not track this, so people might not be notified of their eligibility. This does not reduce what the former spouse receives in any way.
However, several conditions must be in place. The couple must have been married for 10 years or longer. The person claiming the benefit must not have remarried, but the ex-spouse can be. The divorce must have been over for at least two years, and the former spouse must be eligible for benefits. Otherwise, the former spouse must have begun claiming benefits. The person must also be at least 62 years old although waiting until retirement age will mean bigger checks.
The total a person can receive is up to half of the ex-spouse’s benefit. If the person already receives this much, nothing more will be received from the former spouse’s record. However, if the person receives less, that person can get an additional amount to bring the total up to 50% of the ex-spouse’s benefit. In other words, if the person is getting $1,000 monthly and the ex-spouse is eligible to get $2,400, the person might receive an additional $200 to bring the total up to half of the spouse’s.
This benefit may be particularly helpful to divorced people, who often need to revise their retirement plans. Since Texas is a community property state, retirement accounts may have been divided equally, but it costs more to maintain two households than one. When people divorce close to retirement, they have less time to rebuild those savings as well. Individuals who are considering divorce might want to talk to an attorney about the financial ramifications and how they might protect their financial security.