Ask Larry

Am I Eligible For My Ex-Husband's Social Security Or Pension?

Hi Larry, I was married 14 years to a US Army Service Member. We have a child. I now live and work in Germany. I am not a US Citizen, my husband was mostly stationed in Germany during his military career.
I know that he retired from the Military and now works for the US Government as a civilian. His birth of year is 1964, mine is 1962. I worked less than a year in the US so I won´t qualify for my own Social Security in the US.
My questions if I am eligible for his pension/social security (What´s the difference?): If yes, when can I apply for it? How much in percentage will i qualify for? Do my German retirement benefits affect the amount i will be eligible for? Do I have to live in the US in order to qualify? Will i have to file an income taxes?

Thanks for answering my questions.

Hi. My expertise is limited to Social Security benefits, so I don't know whether or not you may be able to qualify for any benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) based on your ex-husband's military service.

It sounds like you might be able to qualify for Social Security divorced spousal benefits at some point in the future. To be potentially eligible, your ex-husband must either be drawing Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits or he must be at least age 62. You would also need to be at least age 62 and be unmarried in order to qualify.

Unreduced divorced spousal benefits are calculated at 50% of the worker's primary insurance amount (PIA), but if you claim divorced spousal benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA) of 67 then your benefit rate will be reduced for age. That benefit reduction could amount to as much as 35% if you claim benefits when you reach age 62.

If you're eligible for a pension from the German Social Security program it would not adversely affect your divorced spousal benefits from the U.S., and you can potentially qualify for benefits even though you're a non-U.S. citizen who's living in Germany. Collecting Social Security benefits wouldn't necessarily require you to file a U.S. tax return, but your benefits from the U.S. might be subject to a nonresident alien tax withholding. The nonresident alien tax withholding provision requires the Social Security Administration to withhold taxes equal to roughly 25.5% of a nonresident alien's benefits.

Best, Jerry

May 27 2022 - 1:02pm
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