January 21, 2022

Liz Weston: Sorry. Social Security doesn’t care about the details of your divorce decree

Dear Liz: I am in my third marriage. My first two marriages lasted 10 years each. My husbands worked in jobs that required paying Social Security. I am currently retired (since 1999) and have worked my entire career for a city council. I am currently receiving a pension from the municipality. Am I entitled to any Social Security benefits for the time I was married to my previous spouses? It only seems fair since I had to pay spousal support to each of them.

Answer: That’s a new argument! Unfortunately, the Social Security system doesn’t care about the details of your divorce decisions.

You can call Social Security and ask if you qualify for benefits, but don’t hope for retirement if your retirement comes from a job that didn’t pay to Social Security. A provision known as the State Retirement Compensation would likely negate any divorced spouse or surviving dependents you might receive.

Dear Liz: Our 23-year-old daughter has a low-limit credit card from her bank, mainly to build up her credit history. For the same purpose, we’ve also added her as an authorized user on one of our credit cards (yes, we can trust her). When she recently checked her credit reports for annualcreditreport.com, one of the agencies produced a report, but another claimed they couldn’t find her. Is that normal for a relatively new credit user? Could it be that she has a hyphenated middle name? Do we have to worry?

Answer: It may take 30 days or more for information with the credit bureaus to update, so she should try again and check the third-party credit bureau as well. If two agencies can’t find her after 30 days, then both credit cards may report to only one agency. In that case, she should consider getting a credit-building loan from a credit union that reports to all three bureaus.

Otherwise, the problem is probably with the credit bureau and she should try to order the missing credit report through the US mail. The agency that couldn’t find her has instructions on its site to request a report that way.

Liz Weston, certified financial planner, is a personal finance columnist for: NerdWallet. Inquiries can be sent to her at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact Us” form at asklizwestton.com.

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