elderly women who needs a social security disability attorney in texas
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By Carey Thompson
Founding Attorney

Are you curious about how Social Security can shape your financial future? Many women find themselves pondering this very question. Social Security encompasses more than just retirement benefits; it’s an important safety net that offers support during retirement, disability, and loss of a spouse. Knowing how to maximize these benefits can significantly impact your life and financial well-being.

1. There is No Marriage Penalty

A common misconception about Social Security is the idea of a “marriage penalty” or a cap on benefits paid to married couples. In reality, Social Security does not penalize marriage in terms of benefits. Each person in a marriage is entitled to their own benefits based on their work record, or they can opt for spousal benefits if they offer a higher payout. The system is designed to ensure financial support for retirees, disabled individuals, and survivors without reducing benefits due to marital status. Understanding this can relieve concerns for couples planning their retirement strategy, allowing them to make the most of their Social Security benefits. 

2. If You’re Due Two Benefits, You Generally Receive the Higher Rate

When you qualify for two types of Social Security benefits, such as your own retirement benefit and a spousal benefit, the system doesn’t stack these payments. Instead, you’re typically paid the higher of the two amounts, not both simultaneously. This rule ensures that individuals receive the maximum possible benefit to which they’re entitled, streamlining the benefits process and maintaining fairness. Understanding this can help in planning your financial future, as it clarifies expectations and aids in strategizing for retirement. 

3. If You’re Divorced, You May Be Eligible on Your Ex’s Social Security Record

Divorce doesn’t necessarily sever your eligibility for Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. If your marriage lasted at least 10 years, you might still qualify for benefits based on your earnings, provided you haven’t remarried. This provision aims to protect individuals who may not have a substantial work record of their own, ensuring they still have access to financial support during retirement. To qualify, your ex-spouse must be eligible for Social Security benefits, and the amount you’d receive based on their record must be higher than what you’d get on your own. This often-overlooked aspect of Social Security offers a safety net, allowing for additional financial planning options post-divorce.

4. You May Be Due a Widow’s Benefit When Your Spouse (or Ex) Dies

Losing a spouse or an ex-spouse can significantly impact your life, including your financial situation. Social Security provides widow’s benefits to help mitigate this impact. If your spouse or ex-spouse has passed away and you were married for at least 10 years (in the case of an ex-spouse), you may be eligible for these benefits. These benefits are designed to offer financial support by paying a percentage of your deceased spouse’s Social Security benefit, depending on your age and other factors. Understanding and accessing widow’s benefits can provide a crucial financial lifeline during a challenging time. 

5. You Can Always Receive Your Own Social Security Benefit

Your eligibility for Social Security benefits is rooted in your own work history and earnings, independent of any family connections or marital status. This means that even if you’re receiving spousal or survivor’s benefits, you have the right to switch to your own retirement benefits if they’re higher once you’re eligible. This system ensures that individuals are not disadvantaged by their personal circumstances, promoting fairness and financial independence. It’s designed to support you in retirement, disability, or widowhood based on your contributions through your working years. This can empower you to make informed decisions about when and how to claim benefits, maximizing your financial security in later life.

Social Security and Your Financial Well-Being

At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, we can guide you through the complexities of Social Security and ensure you secure the benefits you deserve. If you have questions about Social Security, contact us, and let us help you safeguard your financial future.

About the Author
Carey Thompson has been practicing Social Security Disability Law Since 2008 after he graduated from Texas Wesleyan School of Law, now known as Texas A&M school of Law in Fort Worth, TX.  While at Texas Wesleyan he served on Law Review.  Prior to going to Law School, Mr. Thompson was a High School Band Director for four years using his degree in Music Education from Michigan State University.  Prior to Attending Michigan State, he attended Aledo Schools from Kindergarten to graduate.  Mr.Thompson feels strongly about serving the people of Tarrant County.