September, 2023

September Update: Collecting Benefits from an Ex-Spouse

Social Security Spotlight: Divorce & Ex-Spousal Benefits
RSSA | Social Security Newsletter | September 2023
September 2023 Newsletter


Hi there. Please enjoy reading our newsletter filled with news and information on Social Security, retirement, and Medicare. Please reach out at with any feedback on our newsletters. We are always happy to hear from you!


RSSA Announcements  


Happy Fall! We have lots of events coming up this season. We most recently attended Senior Summit in Los Angeles, Pinnacle’s AEP Kickoff in Connecticut, Medicare Expo in Arizona, and WAPCON in Arizona. It has been so much fun speaking at these events and meeting new faces at our booths. Please say hi to us if you attend an upcoming event. Check out our upcoming events here.

And don’t forget to check out photos from all of these events on our Instagram and LinkedIn pages. 


New Features   


Event Registration Pages
Many RSSAs have been hosting Social Security workshops without a registration page, missing out on tracking attendees. Now, RSSAs can utilize a turn-key event registration page to manage event sign-ups, receive notifications, and export a list of registrants with their contact details. To get started, navigate to Member Center -> Event Manager -> Add Event, and select ‘I will use the NARSSA Event Registration Page’ for a ready-made registration page. Any questions, reach out to

RSSA Roadmap Client Portals
As an RSSA, offer clients and prospects access to the RSSA Roadmap Client Portal for secure data entry and Social Security benefits optimization. Data syncs directly into your dashboard to simplify client management, saving time while keeping clients’ Social Security plans updated. Share the portal link or QR code to attendees at webinars, in emails, on postcards, or on your website to provide a free Social Security plan consultation, seamlessly transitioning into further financial discussions. Additional fees apply. Any questions, reach out to


Top Stories  

Source: Yahoo
RSSA President & Co-Founder, Martha Shedden, provides insight on the “First Year of Retirement Rule” to reporter James Holbach. What is this rule? And how does it work? Read all about it.
Social Security Benefits Could Shrink in 10 Years. How to Plan.
Source: Barron’s

Barron’s writer, Elizabeth O’Brien speaks to experts regarding the potential for Social Security cuts in the future and how to prepare. Whether or not Social Security faces cuts in 10 years, it is important to plan. Martha Shedden reminds us “not to panic and make an emotional decision.” Read the full story.

Source: RSSA
Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotionally draining experience. Amidst the grief, it’s essential to take care of practical matters, including any unclaimed Social Security benefits that your deceased parent may have left behind. Fortunately, there is a process in place to recover these unpaid benefits. Read the step by step guide.
Source: RSSA
Ministers who choose exemptions from payroll taxes through Form SSA-4361 and are or were married, may have eligibility to secure their financial future by tapping into spousal and survivor benefits. This unique provision bridges the gap between faith and finances, recognizing the distinctive circumstances faced by clergy members. Read the story.


Ask Martha  

Question: I am 61, and my husband and I have been separated for years. We have a disabled adult daughter, who lives with me. She currently receives the DAC benefit and I receive the spousal child in care benefit. We are going to finally divorce, does the child in care benefit stop, since I am under 62? And, if I claim divorced spousal benefits, when i turn 62, and she is still in my care, are my ex spousal benefits reduced?
Martha’s response: You have two great questions. Will the child in care benefit stop, since I am under 62? No, your child-in-care spousal benefit should not stop if you get divorced. Will my ex spousal benefits be reduced? Yes, the spousal benefit at age 62 will be subject to reductions below the 50% of your ex-spouse’s PIA if you collect that prior to your FRA. You have the option…Read Martha’s full response or Ask Martha your own question.


Listen up: Social Security Podcast   

In this episode, Martha sits down with Geoffrey Brown, (at the time of recording) Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). He is currently the President & CEO of Illinois CPA Society. They share good advice for consumers who are trying to navigate the often confusing endeavor of working with a financial advisor.
You can listen to Social Security Answers from the Experts on Spotify, Google, Apple or anywhere you listen to podcasts. You can even watch the live recordings on our YouTube channel. Listen here or watch on YouTube.


Social Security Spotlight: Divorce & Ex-Spousal Benefits  

What are the divorced eligibility requirements for collecting Social Security benefits? If you are divorced, you still may be eligible to receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (and your ex-spouse may be eligible to receive benefits based on your record too). You may be eligible to collect ex-spousal benefits if you were married for more than 10 years, you are currently single, and you are at least age 62.

Does my ex-spouse need to be collecting their retirement benefits in order for me to collect benefits based on his/her record? It depends. If you have been divorced for more than 2 years, you are considered “independently entitled” and therefore your ex-spouse does not need to be collecting retirement benefits in order for you to receive ex-spousal benefits based on his/her record. If you have been divorced for less than 2 years, you must wait until your ex-spouse is collecting their retirement benefits in order for you to collect a spousal benefit based on his/her record.

Will my ex-spouse know that I am receiving benefits based on his/her record? It is common for individuals to be completely unaware that their ex-spouse is collecting benefits based on their record. Ex-spousal benefits will not have an impact on the benefits of the one whose record they are being paid from.

What documents will I need to apply for ex-spousal benefits? There are several documents you may need and these include your birth certificate, proof of citizenship, W-2, marriage certificate, and divorce decree.


Case Study of the Month  

Francis, the owner of a successful S Corporation, is 50 years old and planning for his income for the next 15 years. He volunteered for many years, has covered earnings (taxed for Social Security) for the past 14 years, and no pension. These years had high earnings, but he is surprised that his expected retirement benefit is low.

Will future earnings increase Francis’ benefit, even if lower than previous years?
Yes, future covered earnings will increase his benefit, even if low values. This is because he has only 14 years of earnings, while 35 years are used to calculate the primary insurance amount (PIA). Each future year will replace a $0 previously used in the 35 years calculation.

If Francis plans to take $300,000 as salary for the rest of his career, what advice would you give him?
Only up to the maximum taxable earnings is taxed for Social Security, in 2023 this is $160,200. Income above this has no impact on Social Security benefits, but will be subject to income tax. He should consider a different salary/distribution ratio to lower taxation. This would result in 29 years of high earnings, dramatically increasing benefits.


Medicare & Insurance Agents

The unequivocal close relationship between Medicare & Social Security cannot be denied, and Social Security optimization is the cornerstone to retirement planning. Education, empathy, and a compassionate understanding of where a client is on their life journey, and addressing what they’re worried about is essential in today’s world. It requires a holistic approach that communicates to clients that you understand what is in their best interest.

Jumping the market and being able to speak with your target demographic before they reach Medicare age outside of Medicare marketing guidelines will create a sales funnel of those who are going to be claiming Social Security and Medicare for the next 15 years.

Turn Social Security prospects into Medicare clients using the RSSA® Program. The RSSA® Program is a turn-key Social Security education, technology, marketing, and support program to help your organization build a sales funnel, fill seats at events, and open the door to organic Medicare, Insurance, and Wealth Management sales opportunities.

Learn More about the RSSA® Program.

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