Here's a quiz for you.
Frank and Joan had been married for 31 years until their divorce in 2007. During the divorce proceedings, Joan signed an agreement relinquishing all rights to benefits on Frank's Social Security record.
This month, both Frank and Joan reached full retirement age. Joan had never worked under Social Security but Frank had worked and paid in his entire working life. Frank was told that his Social Security monthly payment would be $1,600. How much can Joan receive on Frank's record?
That seems like an easy question, doesn't it? After all, if Joan signed a legal paper relinquishing her rights to benefits on Frank's record then she will get nothing, right? But if you said that Joan's Social Security payment would be zero I'm afraid that you're wrong.
Sometimes the laws and legal papers seem to contradict one another. This would be just such a case. The divorce document says one thing but the Social Security law says another. However, in this case the clause the lawyers added to the divorce papers isn't worth the paper that it is written on. Federal law will override any legal paperwork from the lawyers.
In addition, the Social Security law says that because Joan was married to Frank for at least 10 years and is not remarried, she is entitled to benefits on his record.
Joan will receive the same amount on Frank's record that she would if she was still married to him. Since she has reached full retirement age, she will receive one-half of his payment now, and his full payment should Frank pre-decease her.
These payments will not affect what Frank receives, nor will they affect payments to Frank's current wife, if he has remarried.
So if you said that Joan would receive $800 per month give yourself an "A".
Here is another interesting fact about receiving benefits as a divorced spouse _ unlike receiving benefits on a current spouse's record, Frank does not necessarily have to file for his retirement benefits for Joan to collect money on his record.
The divorced spouse of a worker who is not entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits, but has reached age 62 and is fully insured, can become independently entitled to benefits on the worker's earnings record, as long as: he or she has filed an application for divorced spouse's benefits; is not entitled to a retirement or disability insurance benefit based on his or her own primary insurance amount, which equals or exceeds one-half the worker's primary insurance amount; is age 62 or older; is not now married and was married to the worker for at least 10 years before the date the divorce became final; and has been divorced from the worker for not less than two continuous years.
Now I know this seems like a lot of information to take in all at once. Don't worry, you can find more information about receiving divorced spouse's insurance benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov.
And if you don't find the answers to your questions online, you can always give us a call at (800) 772-1213 or (877) 628-6581. We are happy to discuss your personal situation with you over the phone and we will schedule an appointment with our office if necessary.
tracey L. weaver is district manager of the Oneonta office of the Social Security Administration. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.
Here's a quiz for you.
- Senior scene
As Time Goes By: Identity thieves, beware of what you would get with me
I like to make slogans for each year of my birth. For example, when I was 75 I was "still alive," when I was 76 I was "learning new tricks," and this year on turning 77 I have "One foot in heaven." (With the other on the "slippery slope.")
From the Office: Laws work to help protect those in need of guardianship
Sometimes individuals cannot care for themselves. In New York, guardianship laws exist to empower others to take care of children and adults who need help to care for themselves and or their property. This is the second of a two-part column that explores the issues and the law of guardianship in New York state.
Looking Back: Dressing modestly for success never goes out of style
Where have all the years gone? It seems like just yesterday that I was able to go and go… do and do so much more: Shopping all the "clearance racks" store after store and enjoying seeing all the new items and keeping up-to-date with what the fashions will be for the next season (that is if they weren't too hilariously out of line with good taste and lacking modesty). I really enjoyed "shopping 'til I drop."
Social Security: Sometimes some of your Social Security income is taxable
Around this time every year, I get many questions about Social Security benefits and filing taxes.
As Time Goes By: Don't confuse signs of 'magnesia' with senior moments
The other day somebody told me I was losing my mind; this was when I realized that I might have "milk of magnesia."
From the Office: Take advantage of all the help available to you
Looking Back: Fond memories of movie nights in suburban Jersey
Not too long ago, we were shopping on Southside when I glanced up at the movie marquee. They were showing 10 movies at the same time. Imagine that. For back in my youth, the theaters showed perhaps a double feature along with a few shorts -- but 10 all in the same place?
Social Security: At tax time, make sure your Social Security information is in order
Happy 2014! With the arrival of the new year and the start of tax season, it is the perfect time to share some helpful information from a fellow Social Security employee.
As Time Goes By: There are many things I'm glad I didn't do in my lifetime
The other day, someone told me that there would come a time when I would consider looking at my â€œplus and minuses.â€� They intimated that I still had time to reconcile any deficits in my character before pleading my case to the judge in the hereafter.
From the Office: Office for the Aging offers numerous services for seniors, others
Schoharie County Office for the Aging's mission is to assist and advocate for county residents ages 60 and older and their caregivers through programs and services designed to promote health, safety, dignity, independence and community involvement. The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Although we can see you if you just drop by, it is best to make an appointment so that the individual with the expertise you need is available.
Looking Back: Snowfall brings back memories of fights, forts and figures
How exciting those first fluffy flakes are as they drift past the window.
Social Security: A new look at the Christmas classics, and Social Security
The weather outside may be frightful, but Social Security's always in season, and you can do some Social Security business without venturing out into the cold, but more about that later.
As Time Goes By: How to find out if you're naughty or nice
"You better watch out, you better not pout," the fat man in the red suit is giving a shout!
From the Office: Guardianship can be a complicated legal issue
Sometimes individuals cannot care for themselves. In New York, guardianship laws exist to empower others to take care of children and adults who need help to care for their persons and/or their property. This is the first of a two-part column that explores the issues and the law of guardianship in New York state.
Looking Back: Pinch your pennies, especially by reading the fine print
Penny pinching is just that -- pinching pennies. The worsening economy is something that is reflected on so many, many faces: Unhappiness, irritability and just plain "I don't know what to do … what's next? All is so unbelievable!!
Social Security: Start an online holiday tradition at www.socialsecurity.gov
As we approach this holiday season, I want to share an informative article written by a fellow Social Security employee. I hope you enjoy it.
As Time Goes By: Fuggedabout 'tempus fugit' in not-so-fun times
Someone recently asked me if I had one wish, what it would be?
From the Office: Don't put off getting ready for winter any longer
We've had a beautiful fall and I, for one, have been tempted to put off thinking about winter.
Looking Back: Focus on the positives to help overcome limitations
"It's great to be young and energetic," I was thinking out loud as I fondly watched several youngsters enjoying the bight sunny and still warm day. There they go scooting down the sidewalk on their skateboards. Remember when? Whoops … no skateboards "back when" much less smooth cement sidewalks to zoom down.
As Time Goes By: Scruples in short supply among lawmakers
The other day, a friend and I were talking about what has happened to our lawmakers, and gridlock. I said offhand that several years ago I felt the urge to run for office. He quickly interjected that I would make a lousy politician.
- As Time Goes By: Identity thieves, beware of what you would get with me