Pensions and Social Security: Financial Future After Divorce

Many Illinois couples navigating a divorce can become focused on immediately pressing issues, such as temporary living arrangements and the cost of the divorce process. While it is normal to have concerns over such issues, individuals should not lose focus of important issues that will have an impact on the future, such as pensions and Social Security. A final divorce decree should always address immediate issues, such as child custody, and future needs, such as retirement.

For Americans who were married at least 10 years, it is possible to seek Social Security benefits based on the earnings of an ex-spouse, as long as that individual meets standard age requirements and is not remarried. At least two years must have passed since the divorce. Those who are 66 years and older may be able to collect an amount that is as much as half of what the ex-spouse will claim at retirement age.

This is a mutual benefit for both spouses as each individual can draw benefits based on the employment record of the other. Doing so does not impact the amount of Social Security received by the other individual. As with many matters relating to Social Security, it can be complicated to navigate the process and understand rightful benefits. It can also be complex to collect financial records from an uncooperative ex-spouse who is not willing to share information.

During a divorce, Illinois couples should make the effort to resolve all issues that are important for the future. While a divorce decree cannot dictate Social Security, it can impact the division of retirement funds, long-term savings and pensions. When an individual is facing post-divorce complications, it can be beneficial to seek the advice of a lawyer experienced in family law matters.

Source:, “How to Collect Social Security Benefits Based on an Ex-Spouse’s Earnings“, Philip Moeller, June 5, 2015

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]