Here's What Happens to Your Social Security If You Remarry in Retirement

Many factors can affect the size of your Social Security checks, including your birth year, work history, and the age you begin claiming. But your marital status can also affect your benefits, even long after you retire.

If you're married or divorced, you could be entitled to a special type of Social Security. But getting remarried later in life could change your payments or even disqualify you from certain types of benefits. While everyone's situation may be different, here's how remarriage could affect your Social Security later in life.

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Spousal and divorce benefits: What you need to know

Spousal benefits are generally available to those who are currently married -- assuming your spouse is entitled to either retirement or disability benefits. You can receive them even if you've never worked, and the average spouse of a retired worker collects just over $911 per month in spousal benefits, as of April 2024.

You can only receive spousal benefits if you're married, but in the event of a divorce, you could be entitled to divorce benefits.

With divorce benefits, you may receive payments based on your ex-spouse's work history. You must have been married for at least 10 years, and you cannot currently be married to collect this type of benefit. With both spousal and divorce benefits, you generally must be at least 62 years old to begin claiming.

In both cases, the maximum you can collect is 50% of the amount your spouse or ex-spouse is entitled to at their full retirement age. If you're also entitled to retirement benefits based on your own work record, you'll only receive the higher of the two amounts -- not both.

How remarrying could affect your benefit

If you remarry in retirement, it could increase or decrease your payments depending on your potential divorce benefit and new spousal benefit.

For example, say your ex-spouse is receiving $2,000 per month at their full retirement age, providing you with $1,000 per month in divorce benefits. If you remarry and your current spouse is collecting $3,000 per month from Social Security, you could potentially collect $1,500 per month in spousal benefits. In this case, remarrying could significantly increase your benefit amount.

However, if your new partner's benefit is lower than your ex-spouse's, you may qualify for less in spousal benefits than you were receiving in divorce benefits. Because you can't receive divorce benefits when you're married, remarrying could permanently limit your benefit amount in some cases.

Keep in mind, too, that whether you're currently married or divorced, a spouse or ex-spouse claiming benefits based on your record will not affect your benefit at all. If you've remarried and your ex-spouse is receiving divorce benefits, that also won't affect your current partner's ability to take spousal benefits.

Spousal and divorce benefits can go a long way in retirement, so if you're considering remarrying, it's smart to consider how it will affect your monthly payments. With the right strategy, you can set yourself up for a more financially secure retirement.

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