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Ask keeperumiami Your Own Question
keeperumiami, Senior Tax Expert & Financial Planner
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 7119
Experience:  Sr Tax Expert/Financial PlannerCPA/PFS (retired)Over forty years of advising individuals & small businesses
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Someone in my family had a divorce decree issued in their case

Customer Question

Someone in my family had a divorce decree issued in their case 2 years ago in their case. They left the country in order to avoid paying the settlement. Would the opposing party be able to get my relative's social security benefits upon the death of the person? Either for themselves or the child they had?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  keeperumiami replied 2 years ago.
Well, first of all, it wouldn't be the death that triggered any Social Security benefits.
First, if you are talking about spousal benefits, the marriage would have to have lasted 10 years or more and the spouse seeking the benefits would have to have not remarried. If that spouse of the divorced spouse (who left the country) dies then the remaining spouse would be eligible for widow's benefits at age 60 as long as she was married to deceased spouse for 10 years and she hasn't remarried.
As far as the child is concerned, if the deceased spouse leaves a minor child, then that child would be entitled to Social Security benefits until the child reaches age 18 or completes High School if the child attains age 18 before graduating from High School.
Does that answer your question? Let me know if you need clarification of anything.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No, I'm not referring to spousal support. Spousal support had already been awarded in this person's case a few years earlier, but it was discontinued. A final divorce decree was issued in the case a few years ago. However, the party I am assisting with this question fled the country to avoid paying the settlement ordered by the court. The marriage was over 10 years long. The child they had is severely disabled and will require lifelong care.

Given this specific situation, if my relative abroad dies will his ex get his social security money (either for herself or to care for the child they had)? Or will it end entirely upon this person's death?

Expert:  keeperumiami replied 2 years ago.
Well, the child should be getting support now based upon his parent's Social Security account. The parent's death should have no bearing on the child's benefit no matter how old the child is, if he/she is disabled according to Social Security.
The ex-spouse will be entitled to his full benefit which would replace any Social Security spousal benefit which she would receive as long as she otherwise qualifies, ie. has attained age 60 (widows benefit) or a reduced Social Security benefit if she collects at age 62, or his full benefit if she delays collecting until her normal retirement age, possibly age 66-67, her ex being deceased & she hasn't remarried.
The benefit she is entitled to will not end at his death, in fact it could increase to his full retirement benefit as explained above.