In many spousal maintenance cases, especially in cases where the parties are at or nearing retirement age, it is critical that the attorney receives a copy of both parties’ Social Security Statement. The Social Security Statement contains many important numbers that factor into spousal maintenance, and often end up being used as exhibits at trial.
The first important piece of information on a Social Security Statement is an estimate of what the monthly benefit a party will received upon retirement is. Most Social Security Statements will state what amount a party will receive if he or she retires at his or her normal retirement age, as well as if he or she retires at age sixty-two (62), or at age seventy (70). This allows the parties and the attorneys to better plan for what the maintenance picture will look like as the parties proceed toward retirement.
The second important piece of information that is provided by a Social Security Statement is a table of what a party has earned each year of his or her life. This can be extremely important for establishing what a party’s work history has been like.
Of course, these tables do not take into account earnings that are not subject to Social Security taxes. For example, some clergy members have the option to opt out of Social Security, and therefore at least some of their earnings will not show up on their Social Security Statement if that option is selected. Additionally, some professions have other, parallel forms of retirement in lieu of Social Security, such as benefits through the Railroad Retirement Board.
You can acquire a copy of your Social Security Statement by creating an account at www.ssa.gov, or by visiting your local Social Security Office.