When you turn 65, in most cases, you become eligible for Medicare. Medicare Part A does not have a premium if you, or your spouse, have met the work requirement of 40 quarters. Many questions come up as you begin your journey into Medicare, and even more question if you are divorced or contemplating divorce.
Medicare and Divorce
In today’s world divorce is growing more common and affects 40 to 50 percent of Americans. When you are divorced you, or your ex-spouse can still qualify for Medicare. There are many cases in which one spouse has not worked their 40 quarters.
In these cases if the ex-spouse has worked 40 quarters and the marriage lasted 10 years or longer, the beneficiary can draw Medicare benefits off of their former spouse. However, there are conditions that need to be met in order to qualify.
- You have to be unmarried
- You must have been married for a minimum of 10 years. Or you were married for at least 1 year before the date of your spouse’s death
- You must be age 62 or older
- Your ex-spouse has to be entitled to Social Security retirement or Disability Benefits; and
- 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
Benefit Amount is Equal to Half of Spouses Full Retirement
When you draw off your spouse, or ex-spouse, your benefit amount is equal to half of their full retirement, or disability benefit. When you start drawing benefits at your full retirement age, the benefits do not include any delayed retirement credits that belong to your ex-spouse.
There are several situations that could affect your social security benefit. Such as, if you receive a pension based on work not covered by social security, for example, work as a government employee.
Keep in mind the amount of benefits you receive has no bearing on the amount of benefits that your ex-spouse or their current spouse receives.
Protecting Your Money
In some cases these divorces are solely financial. One common example is protecting assets and lowering their value so a spouse that is very unhealthy can qualify for Medicare. According to Medicare laws, a married couple can only protect a certain amount of money.
Their assets over that amount must be:
- spent down
- converted to non-countable assets
- or disposed of in a manner that does not cause a penalty period
You cannot however load all the assets to one spouse and leave the other with nothing, it has to be an equitable distribution which means it has to be an equal split.
Failure to follow through on an equitable distribution could cause a period of ineligibility. This is a growing situation in which married couples are being forced into decisions such as divorce to keep from becoming destitute.
Part D Prescription
When it comes to Part D of Medicare, a divorce usually will not affect anything in your Part D prescription plans. However if it lowers your income below certain levels you could then qualify for Extra Help, otherwise known as Low Income Subsidy.
This program can assist in lowering the cost of your prescriptions and sometimes the premiums. When you apply for Extra Help, you have the option of allowing Social Security to send your financial information to the state to see if they can help you get assistance for your Part B premium.
What happens if there are multiple marriages and divorces? Are they eligible to receive benefit from their ex-spouses?
It depends on how long the marriages lasted and other variables. You cannot collect multiple benefits on the records of multiple ex-spouses, only one.
What happens in a situation where there is another spouse in the picture, if they apply before me, will I get anything?
With social security it doesn’t matter which marriage was first or last, There is more than just one benefit available. If you meet the qualifications you will receive the benefit regardless on what the others have done.
To collect on a spouse’s benefit you must go online to Social Security or call them. Make sure you are prepared and able to provide documents that establish why you have the right to the benefit. You will be asked for your birth certificate, marriage license, and divorce decree.
You will also need information of your ex-spouse, such as their social security number. If you do not know it you will be asked a series of other questions; including his date and place of birth and the names of his or her parents. This information is needed to allow social security to look up the number.
For More Information on Medicare Eligibility
If you need to know more about your Medicare eligibility after a divorce or what options are available to you for Medicare Supplements, give us a call or fill out our online rate form. One of our Senior Medicare Agents assist you with your questions and concerns.