Navigating Life Events: Divorced Spouse Resources

Published 9:30 am Sunday, January 22, 2023

Almost every aspect of your life changes following a divorce, including your finances.  Benefits.gov has resources to help. In this article you’ll learn about Divorced Spouse Benefits you may be eligible for and divorce tax relief that may help lessen financial strain.

Social Security Divorced Spouse Benefits

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Divorced Spouse Benefits to people who are eligible to receive Social Security. If you are divorced, you can receive monetary benefits based on your spouse’s record, if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
  • Your ex-spouse is 62 or older.
  • The benefits that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work are less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
  • You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

You will still be eligible for benefits if your ex-spouse remarries, but you will no longer be eligible if you get remarried.

If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits but is eligible for them, you can still receive benefits if you have been divorced for at least two continuous years. If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own, SSA will pay that amount first, but if the benefit of your ex-spouse is higher, you will receive the difference.

You can learn more about applying and eligibility on SSA’s Benefits for Your Divorced Spouse page.

Tax Relief for Divorced or Separated Individuals

Filing taxes can be complicated under normal conditions but can be even more confusing after a big life change like divorce. The U.S. Department of Treasury explains Tax Relief for Divorced or Separated Individuals under Publication 504. Publication 504 is a resource that may help divorced or separated individuals choose their filing status and decide which benefits they can claim.

You don’t need to apply to use this program, but you’ll need to file your taxes according to the guidelines in Publication 504 to receive any benefits. This resource offers explanations on how to determine your filing status, how to handle dependents, alimony, cost of divorce, and many other facts that could affect your taxes after divorce. The instructions will vary based on your personal situation, but this is a great place to start.

The Benefit Finder

To find other benefits for your needs, take the Benefit Finder questionnaire. It can take between 10-30 minutes to finish, and all answers are kept confidential. Once you complete the questionnaire, you will receive a list of government benefits you may be eligible for and where you can apply. Check out this video to learn more about the Benefit Finder Questionnaire.