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Social Security benefits and divorce

Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Nov 19, 2013 in Property Division

Divorced Connecticut readers may be interested to know that Social Security often provides ex-spouses with the possibility of benefits based on their ex-husband or ex-wife's work record. There are certain criteria that must be met to satisfy government requirements, and these benefits are in additions to any other marital assets that may be negotiated in the divorce settlement.

The person wishing to collect must be 62 years old, have been married to the person for at least 10 years, currently not married, and isn't eligible for a greater benefit based on his or her own work record. The spouse being collected from must be at least 62 and the divorce must have occurred at least two years prior to the application for benefits. The benefit amount is up to 50 percent of the ex-spouse's full benefit if it is taken at his or her full-retirement age. Remarriage will stop this benefit unless the later marriage ends. Survivors benefits, up to the full amount of the ex-spouse's benefits, are available to ex-spouses who were married for at least 10 years.

A switching strategy entails filing a restricted application at full retirement age and collecting 50 percent of the amount that the ex-spouse receives. At age 70, the person stops taking the ex-spouse's benefits and switches to his or her own benefits, which will be 32 percent higher than what it was at the full retirement age.

Sometimes divorce can create a difficult financial situation for the spouse with a lower income. In addition to any property or other assets that are divided, financial advisers might recommend pursuing the collection of the larger social security benefit. There are a number of helpful and fully legal strategies that could be used to maximize benefits.

Source: Huffington Post, "How Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security", Jim T. Miller, November 11, 2013