Texas is a community property state, which means all assets acquired during marriage are divided equally in a divorce. Social Security benefits are a little trickier: Spouses must be married for at least 10 years before a spouse may be entitled to a portion of the other’s benefits. Additionally, the spouse seeking the benefits must not be married at the time he or she seeks the benefits. If a person’s own SS benefits exceed the ex-spouse’s SS benefits, they will not receive any of the ex-spouse’s share.
In addition, an individual may not be entitled to any of an ex-spouse’s benefits if the 50% portion of those benefits to which they are entitled does not exceed their own benefits. For instance, if one spouse is entitled to $500 per month and the other is entitled to $600 per month, the spouse cannot make a claim since 50% of $600 is less than $500.
When this is not the case, a person will receive his or her own SS benefits first, and this amount will be supplemented by an amount of the ex-spouse’s benefits sufficient to equal the total amount owed. Thus, if a person is owed $600 total and his or her own benefits comprise $400 of that, then $200 from the ex-spouse’s benefits will supplement the $400.
The Social Security Administration may not advise people if they are eligible for divorce benefits, so individuals might need to make that determination for themselves. They should also be aware of how much money will be lost by withdrawing benefits at the first eligible age of 62 as opposed to waiting until full retirement age. A family law attorney may be of assistance in making these determinations.