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Social Security and Spousal Maintenance

Social Security and Spousal Maintenance

January 3, 2020

By Johnson/Turner Legal

How Much Social Security Does an Ex Spouse Get?

We all look forward to the day when we can retire.  We work hard, follow our estate plan, save, and make sure that we have a realistic and stable plan to reach our goals.

Social Security is an important part of the retirement plan for most Americans. Although Social Security retirement income is not usually enough to support us in the same lifestyle to which we have become accustomed while working, it can be an important supplement to the other retirement benefits we have accumulated while working toward retirement.

If you are facing a divorce, then you need to understand how a request for spousal maintenance will interact with your Social Security benefits.

Social Security Benefits & Divorce

Social Security retirement income benefits are based in the contributions you make during your lifetime.  In other words, the longer you have worked and contributed to Social Security, the better your benefits will be.

In Minnesota, there are a variety of factors that go into determining whether a requesting spouse should receive spousal maintenance, which is also sometimes called “alimony.” Two of the most important factors will be the requesting spouse’s need for the spousal maintenance and the paying spouse’s ability to pay spousal maintenance.

The court will consider many different sources of income when assessing those two factors. One source is Social Security income. This means that, if you are receiving Social Security retirement benefits, the court will consider this as part of your income when trying to decide whether you can afford to pay spousal maintenance. Likewise, if the requesting spouse is receiving Social Security retirement benefits, the court will consider this income for purposes of spousal maintenance need.

Retirement Benefits After Divorce

Spouses who have already been ordered to pay spousal maintenance should also keep in mind that retirement can impact the order that is already in existence. When a spouse turns the appropriate retirement age (usually around 65), he or she can ask the court to reduce or even eliminate their spousal maintenance payments.

The court will not automatically eliminate the payments just because of retirement, however; and as discussed, the receipt of monthly Social Security retirement benefits will be considered when deciding whether the paying spouse still has the ability to continue to pay spousal maintenance as ordered.

At Johnson/Turner Legal, we have extensive experience assisting our clients understanding spousal maintenance and how that fits into their plans for retirement.  Call us today at (320) 299-4249 to talk about your case and your goals.


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