What happens with Medicare and Social Security in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Divorce

The older couples are when they begin preparing for divorce, the greater the potential impact of that process can have on their financial stability in their golden years. It is quite common for people to remain in unhealthy marriages because they fear the financial implications of divorce.

Divorce raises many questions about someone’s financial circumstances. In addition to dividing pensions and retirement accounts, people may depend on their spouses for crucial retirement benefits. Someone’s employment history has a direct bearing on their eligibility for Medicare coverage after retirement. Lifelong contributions also affect what people receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for retirement benefits.

Dependent spouses who gave up their careers or only worked part-time to focus more on the family are often anxious as they prepare for divorce. What does the end of a marriage mean for Medicare coverage and Social Security retirement benefits?

Dependent spouses may still be eligible for crucial benefits

Contrary to what people often assume, a divorce does not automatically cut them off from government benefits that make retirement feasible for working adults. Provided that the marriage lasted long enough, a dependent or lower-earning spouse can still qualify for retirement benefits and Medicare coverage.

The standard for Medicare coverage after a divorce is relatively straightforward. Provided that the marriage lasted for at least 10 years, the lower-earning or dependent spouse is likely eligible for Medicare coverage. Similar rules apply for those who need Social Security retirement benefits.

Those who have remained married for at least 10 years can potentially claim benefits based on their spouse’s contributions. Someone who has worked part-time or in a lower-earning profession throughout their marriage could potentially file a claim based on their own contributions and their spouse’s income during the marriage. Although people may worry about affecting what a spouse receives, the claim of a dependent spouse typically has no influence on the benefits available to the higher-earnings spouse.

The combination of someone’s fair share of the marital estate with appropriate benefits can result in a comfortable standard of living after a Washington divorce. Learning more about the rules that govern benefit programs and property division in Washington may help people reduce the economic setbacks triggered by divorce proceedings.