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Lawrence D. Gorin
Lawrence D. Gorin, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1503
Experience:  30+ years family law experience. QDROs, UIFSA, UCCJEA expertise.
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Unsure if correct forum however... My mom was married to my

Customer Question

Unsure if correct forum however... My mom was married to my father 10+ years. He is deceased now but had re-married (2nd wife is still living), my mom never re-married. She is unable to locate her divorce decree but has her marriage certificate. Is she entitled to a portion of his SSi. pension...
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lawrence D. Gorin replied 4 years ago.
YOUR QUESTION:
Unsure if correct forum however... My mom was married to my father 10+ years. He is deceased now but had re-married (2nd wife is still living), my mom never re-married. She is unable to locate her divorce decree but has her marriage certificate. Is she entitled to a portion of his SSi. pension...

ANSWER:
FIRST, as to Social Security retirement benefits......

No, your mother is not entitled to a port of his Social Security pension, since he is no longer getting it (stopped upon his death). HOWEVER, if she meets the eligibility requirements, she may be able to receive a “surviving divorced spouse’s benefit” from Social Security, which would provide her with benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that she was married to the deceased worker for at least 10 years.

Here’s the full explanation:

If you are divorced AND your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if he or she has remarried), but only if:
** You are unmarried;
** You are age 62 or older;
** The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work; and
** Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).

If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

If you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own record, Social Security will pay that amount first. HOWEVER, if the benefit on your former spouse’s record is a higher amount, you will get a combination of benefits that equals that higher amount (reduced for age).

Further, if you have reached full retirement age and you are eligible for a spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you will be allowed to choose to receive only the divorced spouse’s benefits now and delay receiving retirement benefits until a later date. If retirement benefits are delayed, a higher benefit may be received at a later date based on the effect of delayed retirement credits.

More info at:
http://www.womansdivorce.com/divorce-and-social-security.html
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/divspouse.htm
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan/ifyou2.htm
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan/howtoapply3.htm


SECOND, as the proof of divorce.....
Start by asking your mom whether she is the one who filed for divorce from her husband, or was it her husband who filed for divorce from her. If husband is the one who filed the divorced case, most likely it was in MI, since that is the state in which he was residing

If your father resided in MI at the time of divorce and your mom lived in VA, their divorce most likely occurred in one of those two states. In every state in the nation, when a divorce decree in entered in a court record, the clerk of the court sends a notification form to the state’s Vital Records agency (the same people who deal with birth certificates and death records). So you need to check the Vital Records agencies of MI and VA and see what turns up.

For Michigan Vital Records:
http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-4645---,00.html

For Virgnia Vital Records:
http://www.vdh.state.va.us/Vital_Records/index.htm


Your mother may need some or all of the following documents when applying for Social Security benefits:
Proof of former husband’s death (either from funeral home or death certificate).
Her own birth certificate.
Her marriage certificate.
Her divorce papers.

For Social Security application purposes, public records such as birth certificates and marriage or divorce records must be the originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Social Security will not accept uncertified photocopies. But the certified documents will be return to the applicant.

Even if your mom does not presently have all of the needed documents, she should contact her nearest Social Security office anyway and not delay signing up for Social Security. In many cases, the local Social Security office may be able to contact the Vital Records agency and verify the needed info online at no cost to the applicant. And if they cannot verify the information online, they can still help by providing more info as to where and how to get the needed records.

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Lawrence D. Gorin, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1503
Experience: 30+ years family law experience. QDROs, UIFSA, UCCJEA expertise.
Lawrence D. Gorin and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

 

The information received will help me expedite assisting my mother. Thanks for the time taken!!

Expert:  Lawrence D. Gorin replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your kind words. Glad to have been of assistance. Wish you well. And, also, thank you for bonus payment. Much appreciated.

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