It is common knowledge that husbands and wives are entitled to collect Social Security benefits on their spouses’ work records. Less well-known is that this benefit applies to divorced spouses as long as the spouse has not remarried. Divorced spouses are even entitled to survivor benefits in certain circumstances.
As a spouse, you have the option of claiming a Social Security retirement benefit based on your own earnings record or collecting a spousal benefit equal to half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. You are automatically entitled to whichever benefit is higher and you can collect on your spouse’s record even if you have never worked yourself.
As a divorced spouse you can collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, even if the ex-spouse has remarried and even if the ex-spouse’s new spouse is collecting on the same record.
But to get this benefit, you must meet the following requirements:
- You were married for at least 10 years
- You are at least 62 years old
- Your ex-spouse is eligible for retirement benefits
- You are currently unmarried
If your ex-spouse has not yet applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record provided you have been divorced for at least two years.
In addition, if you have reached full retirement age and are eligible for both a spouse’s benefit and your own retirement benefit, you have a choice. You can receive only the spouse’s benefit and delay receiving your own retirement benefits until a later date. The longer you delay taking your own benefits, the higher the benefit you receive later will be (up to age 70).
If you remarry, you cannot receive benefits on your former spouse’s record unless the new marriage ends (by death, divorce, or annulment).
If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who has passed away, you could still be eligible for survivors benefits if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Survivors benefits are equivalent to the deceased spouse’s full Social Security benefit amount.
However, if you remarry before the age of 60, you cannot collect survivors benefits (unless the later marriage ends for any reason). If you remarry after age 60, you can still receive survivors benefits based on your former spouse’s record. However, if your new spouse is also collecting Social Security benefits and you would receive a higher amount based on the new spouse’s work record, you will receive the higher amount.
Additionally, if you are caring for a child under age 16 or disabled who is getting benefits on the record of your former spouse, you would not have to meet the 10-year marriage rule.
For more information, see Social Security benefits for spouses and children.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is increasing the amount taxpayers can deduct from their 2014 taxes as a result of buying long-term care insurance.
Premiums for “qualified” long-term care insurance policies (see explanation below) are tax-deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses (including Medicare premiums), exceed 10 percent of the insured’s adjusted gross income, or 7.5 percent for taxpayers 65 and older (through 2016).
These premiums — what the policyholder pays the insurance company to keep the policy in force — are deductible for the taxpayer, his or her spouse and other dependents. (If you are self-employed, the tax-deductibility rules are a little different: You can take the amount of the premium as a deduction as long as you made a net profit; your medical expenses do not have to exceed a certain percentage of your income.)
However, there is a limit on how large a premium can be deducted, depending on the age of the taxpayer at the end of the year. Following are the deductibility limits for 2014. Any premium amounts for the year above these limits are not considered to be a medical expense.
|Attained age before the close of the taxable year||Maximum deduction for the year|
|40 or less||$370|
|More than 40 but not more than 50||$700|
|More than 50 but not more than 60||$1400|
|More than 60 but not more than 70||$3720|
|More than 70||$4660|
Another change announced by the IRS involves benefits from per diem or indemnity policies, which pay a predetermined amount each day. These benefits are not included in income except amounts that exceed the beneficiary’s total qualified long-term care expenses or $330 per day (for 2014), whichever is greater. (The 2013 limit was $320.)
For further information, see this resource on other inflation adjustments from the IRS.
What Is a “Qualified” Policy?
To be “qualified,” policies issued on or after January 1, 1997, must adhere to certain requirements, among them that the policy must offer the consumer the options of “inflation” and “nonforfeiture” protection, although the consumer can choose not to purchase these features. Policies purchased before January 1, 1997, will be grandfathered and treated as “qualified” as long as they have been approved by the insurance commissioner of the state in which they are sold. For more information, see this resource on the “qualified” definition.
The Georgetown University Long-Term Care Financing Project has a two-page fact sheet, “Tax Code Treatment of Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance.” To download it in PDF format, go to: http://ltc.georgetown.edu/pdfs/taxcode.pdf