March 4, 2015 in Retirement

Divorce not way to boost Social Security

Dear Senior Living Adviser,

I’m 72, retired and married to my wife of 35 years. She’s 68 years old. We both collect Social Security benefits.

My monthly benefit is $1,500. Hers is $1,100. Would we collect more if we divorce? We cannot afford our mortgage after our savings runs out in the next five years.

— Steve Separate

Dear Steve,

Getting divorced isn’t going to increase either of your Social Security benefits. She’s not going to get two checks. You’re not going to get two checks. Your benefits aren’t going to increase.

I suppose it’s possible that if she was married for at least 10 years to someone before she was married to you, she could switch to his benefits after the two of you divorce, and her benefits might increase based on his earnings record.

If you’re dipping into savings to pay the mortgage, your finances are telling you that you’re overextended. You need to correct that problem, possibly by downsizing to a home you can afford.

Ask the adviser

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the “Ask the Experts” page and select one of these topics: “Senior Living,” “Financing a home,” “Saving & Investing” or “Money.” Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.

Bankrate’s content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this website is governed by Bankrate’s Terms of Use.

More On Social Security:

Create a news alert for "retirement"