Published on September 14th, 2019 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


What You Might Need to Know About Medicare and Divorce: Spouse Eligibility Requirements

Far be it from me to wish bad on anyone, especially divorce however *ish happens even in the longest running of relationships. While the below information may not be relevant to many, there is a segment of our readership that this might be of interest to. Medicare is a tricky beast and the rules seem to be in constant flux and so professional advice is the key. Below is an article from Medicare that I found interesting and thought I’d share. You can read the original article at https://www.medicarefaq.com/faqs/medicare-and-divorce-what-you-need-to-know

Here’s the official line:

Many questions come up as you begin your journey into Medicare. More questions arise if you’re divorced, going through a divorce, or contemplating a divorce.

Medicare and Divorce

In today’s world divorce is growing more common and affects 40 to 50 percent of Americans. When you’ve 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.

Medicare Divorced Spouse Eligibility Requirements

  • 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’re 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 number of benefits you receive has no bearing on the number 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.

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’s 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’s more than just one benefit available. If you meet the qualifications you will receive the benefit regardless of what the others have done.

To collect on a spouse’s benefit you would need to go online to Social Security or call them. Be prepared to provide documents that establish why you have the right to the benefit.

You will be asked for:

  1. birth certificate
  2. marriage license
  3. and divorce decree

You will also need the information about 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 or her 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 assists you with your questions and concerns.

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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