30-3-10.17. Social security number in court records
The social security number of any individual who is subject to a divorce decree, support order, or paternity determination or acknowledgment shall be placed in the records relating to the matter.
Redacting Social Security Numbers from Divorce Documents
The pro se filer should pay attention to those divorce documents that include a Social Security number, and make inquiries about redaction. County clerks and records maintain property and tax records (such as mortgages and liens) as well as divorce, family and juvenile court records, consent decrees, wills and probate records, and documents relating to military discharges. And a small fraction of the millions of public records maintained by county and state governments include Social Security numbers. Most public records filed over the past few years do not list them, thanks to state laws prohibiting the practice, but older records do, especially documents that were filed prior to the mid-1990s. As a result, a government web site may contain many documents containing personal information, including birth dates, addresses, bank account data, information about debts, driver’s license and vehicle registration numbers, the height and race of individuals, the names and birth dates of minor children, child custody details and even medical records. Dozens of county governments now redact Social Security numbers and some other types of personal data from online images of public records. Many others are working to do so. At least four states now mandate redactions of Social Security numbers. However, the redaction efforts only involve truly sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and credit card or bank account data. Other types of information remain part of the public record.
How do I change or correct my name on my Social Security number card?
If you legally change your name because of marriage, divorce, court order or any other reason, you must tell Social Security so you can get a corrected card. You cannot apply for a card online. There is no charge for a Social Security card. This service is free. The same applies once you receive the I-766 card, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and bring required evidence.
To get a corrected Social Security card, you will need to:
• Show the required documents. You will need proof of your identity. Sometimes you also may need to prove your current U.S. citizenship or lawful noncitizen status. See Learn What Documents You Need for more information. Under the heading, “Type of Card,” select “Corrected” for a list of the documents you need;
• Fill out and print an Application for a Social Security Card; and
• Take or mail your application and documents to your local Social Security office.
Am I Entitled To My Ex-Spouse’s Social Security?
Yes. You are eligible to collect spousal benefits on your former wife’s or husband’s earnings record as long as:
• The marriage lasted at least 10 years.
• You have not remarried.
• You are at least 62 years of age.
• Your ex-spouse is entitled to collect Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
Your former spouse doesn’t have to be collecting his or her retirement benefits yet for you to claim ex-spousal benefits. However, if this is the case, the divorce must be at least two years old. (There is no such requirement if your ex is already receiving benefits.) The most you can collect in divorced-spouse benefits is 50 percent of your former mate’s primary insurance amount — the monthly payment he or she is entitled to at full retirement age (currently 66 but gradually rising to 67 over the next several years). You can get that maximum if you file for benefits when you reach full retirement age, if you claim earlier, the benefit amount is reduced. You can file online (via an application form or your My Social Security account); by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213; or by making an appointment at your local Social Security office. The earliest you can apply is three months before your 62nd birthday. You may need to provide documents to show eligibility, including proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status, a marriage certificate, and a divorce decree. If you are already receiving retirement benefits on your own work record, you can also claim any ex-spousal benefits you are eligible for, but Social Security will not pay you both combined. You’ll receive whichever amount is higher and no more.
A divorce can raise many financial uncertainties, and Social Security benefits offer stability for many. Social Security benefits are provided to ex-spouses, regardless of their work record, as long as they meet a few rules.
Rules of Eligibility
You can receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record, even if he or she remarried, if all of the following rules are met:
• Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits if your ex-spouse worked for 10 years or more, then he or she is eligible to receive retirement benefits as early as age 62. If your ex-spouse is receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may also qualify for benefits.
• Your marriage lasted at least 10 years.
• You are age 62 or older.
• You are not married.
• Your own Social Security retirement benefits are lower. The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work record is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work record.
Exceptions to the Rules
The Social Security Administration recognizes that there are special circumstances in which the rules may not apply. Here are some exceptions to the rules:
• Your marriage didn’t last for at least 10 years: The 10-year rule doesn’t apply if you are caring for a child under the age of 16 or a disabled child who is receiving benefits based on your former spouse’s work record. However, the child has to be your ex-spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.
• You are under age 62: If you are not working and are caring for your ex-spouse’s child (who also is your natural or legally adopted child and who is younger than 16 or disabled and entitled to benefits), then you may claim at any age. Your benefits will continue until the child reaches age 16 or is no longer disabled.
• You have remarried: If you remarry you generally can’t collect your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits unless your current marriage ends as a result of death, divorce or annulment. If your ex-spouse is deceased and you remarry after age 60 (or age 50 if you’re disabled), you may still be eligible for a benefit under your ex-spouse’s work record.
Social Security for Divorced Couples
If you collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record, it will not reduce or affect your ex-spouse’s benefit in any way. You can receive divorced spouse benefits before your ex-spouse applies for Social Security. Both you and your ex-spouse have to meet the outlined rules and have been divorced for at least two years. If your ex-spouse had numerous marriages, any of his ex-spouses who had been married to him for at least 10 years is entitled to receive benefits based on his work record. This will not affect your ex-spouse’s benefits.
If divorced, you may be able to claim Social Security benefits based on your own work record, or collect a spousal benefit that may provide you up to 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit. If you are eligible for both benefits you will receive whichever is higher. You will receive the maximum spousal benefit, 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s benefit, if you wait until you reach your full retirement age.
If your ex-spouse is deceased, you may still be able to collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record under the following rules:
• You must be age 60 (age 50 if you’re disabled).
• If you remarry before you reach age 60 (or age 50 if disabled), you cannot receive survivor benefits as long as that marriage remains in effect.
• If you remarry after you reach age 60 (or age 50 if disabled), you will continue to receive benefits on your deceased ex-spouse’s work record. However, if your current spouse is a Social Security beneficiary, you should apply for a spousal benefit on his or her record if it would be larger than your survivor’s benefit. You can get the higher of the benefits but you cannot get both.
Make the Most of Your Benefits
Since Social Security is a guaranteed, lifelong source of retirement security income, maximizing the amount you receive is important, especially if you are divorced. While it is tempting to start collecting benefits as soon as you can, delaying claiming will mean more money for you each month when you eventually start collecting.
Applying for Benefits Early
If you decide to claim benefits on your ex-spouse’s record before you reach full retirement age, your monthly benefit amount will be permanently reduced. If you wait until you reach full retirement age, you will receive the maximum benefit, which is either 50 percent of the amount your ex-spouse is entitled to receive at his or her full retirement age or 100 percent of your own benefit.
Waiting to Claim Can Offer You a Choice
If you are eligible for benefits on your own work record and you have reached full retirement age, you have an important choice to make. You can choose to either claim your own benefit or delay taking yours and claim half of your ex-spouse’s benefit. Choosing to collect half of your ex-spouse’s benefit first, while delaying claiming your own until age 70, will increase the amount of benefits you will eventually receive. It will allow you to continue to earn delayed retirement credits and at the same time collect Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s work record. At age 70, when you have earned the maximum benefit based on your work record (assuming it will be higher than the benefit you are receiving based on your ex-spouse’s work record) you can switch to your own benefit.
Check the Facts
Getting information on how much your Social Security benefits will be is as simple as making a phone call to the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visiting one of the local offices. The Social Security Administration will be able to give you an estimate on the benefits you may receive as a divorced spouse or a surviving divorced spouse, as well as on your own earned benefit. If you don’t have a good relationship with your ex-spouse, don’t worry. You don’t have to get his or her permission or approval to collect benefits. Nor will Social Security inform your ex-spouse that you are getting the benefit, as it does not impact his or her own monthly benefits. When applying for Social Security benefits as a divorced spouse, you may be asked to submit copies of identifying documents.
Here’s a list of what you may need:
• Birth certificate or other proof of birth;
• Naturalization papers;
• U.S. military discharge papers;
• W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year;
• Final divorce decree, if applying as a divorced spouse; and
• Marriage certificate.
Can I get an estimate of the Social Security I can collect on my ex-spouse’s record?
Yes. A representative at your local Social Security office can provide estimates of the benefit you can receive as a divorced spouse, based on your former wife’s or husband’s earnings record. You’ll need to show your marriage certificate and divorce decree to prove that the union lasted at least 10 years, the basic qualification for ex-spouses to receive benefits. You also have to provide your former spouse’s Social Security number — or, if you don’t have that, his or her date of birth, place of birth and parents’ names — so Social Security can locate the relevant work record. If you’ve remarried, this is probably moot. Except in very limited circumstances, you cannot collect spousal benefits on the record of a living ex-husband or ex-wife if you have wed again.
Social Security Survivor Benefits for Divorced Spouses
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides surviving ex-spouses with almost the same benefits as widows.
Has the applicant been forced to stop or reduce work hours?
If your ex-husband or ex-wife was disabled and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and then died, you may be to receive benefits as a surviving ex-spouse. These benefits are available to divorced spouses who were married for at least ten years.
Eligibility for Divorced Spouse’s Survivors Benefit
The requirements and benefits for a surviving ex-spouse are very similar to those provided to surviving spouses.
To collect Social Security benefits after your ex-spouse dies, your ex-spouse had to have been collecting SSDI (or Social Security retirement) benefits at the time of death. Also, you must still be unmarried (with some exceptions—see below), and:
• 60 years old or older
• disabled and between the ages of 50 and 60 (if the disability occurred within seven years of the death), or
• Caring for your ex-spouse’s child under the age of 16 who is receiving Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (this is called the mother’s or father’s benefit).
The Effects of Remarriage
The marital status of your ex-spouse at the time of his or her death has no effect on your ability to receive surviving ex-spouse disability or retirement benefits. But if you remarry before the age of 60, or before the age 50 if you are disabled, you won’t be able to receive benefits as a surviving ex-spouse. However, if that marriage later ends due to divorce, death, or annulment before the death of your ex-spouse, you would be able to receive surviving ex-spouse benefits as though you never remarried. If you remarry after you reach 60 years old, or 50 years old if you are disabled, it will have no effect on your ability to receive surviving ex-spouse benefits.
If You Are Eligible for Social Security Benefits under Your Own Record
You can’t receive survivor’s benefits on your deceased ex-spouse’s record if you are eligible to receive a Social Security benefit on your own record that would be higher than the benefits you will receive on your ex-spouse’s record. If you are eligible for benefits on your own record that are less than the benefits you would receive on your deceased ex-spouse’s record, Social Security will pay you your own benefits plus the difference between the amount of your benefits and what the benefit based on your deceased ex-spouse’s benefits would be. This difference is paid with money from your deceased ex-spouse’s benefit. If you were 62 or older when you reach full retirement age, you can choose to either receive your Social Security benefit or your deceased ex-spouse’s benefit. If you choose to delay receiving your own benefits, it may increase the amount you get paid from your own Social Security retirement benefit later on.
Amount of Divorced Spouse’s Survivors Benefit
Below are the different payment categories for surviving ex-spouse benefits:
• If you are at or above full retirement age, you will receive 100% of your deceased ex-spouse’s SSDI or retirement benefit.
• If you are between the ages of 60 and full retirement age, you will receive in the range of 71.5% to 99% of your deceased ex-spouse’s SSDI or retirement benefit.
• If you are between the ages of 50 and 59 and disabled, you will receive 71.5% of your deceased ex-spouse’s SSDI or retirement benefits. You must have become disabled before your ex-spouse died or within seven years of his or her death.
• If you are caring for a child under the age of 16 years old who is receiving SSDI or retirement benefits on your deceased ex-spouse’s record, you will receive 75% of your deceased ex-spouse’s SSDI or retirement benefit, subject to the maximum family benefit.
Note that if you work while receiving a survivor’s benefit, your benefit may be reduced, depending on your age and the amount of money you earn.
The Effect of SSDI Payments to the Surviving Ex-Spouse on Other Survivors
If, as a surviving ex-spouse, you receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record by meeting the age or disability requirement, the benefit you receive will have no effect on the amount that other survivors will receive. In other words, it doesn’t count toward the maximum family benefit. But if you are receiving a surviving ex-spouse benefit based on the fact that you are caring for a child under 16 years old who is also receiving Social Security benefits based on your deceased ex-spouse’s record, the amount you receive will count towards the total family limit. This means that the percentage you receive may decrease the percentage of benefits that other survivors can receive. If you are divorced and your ex-spouse is still alive, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits if you are 62 or older.
When you need a divorce lawyer, call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506