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How divorce impacts Social Security benefits

If you are divorced you may be entitled to social security benefits based on the work record of a former spouse, even if that former spouse has gotten remarried. This is typically true for those who were married for at least 10 years and who would receive a smaller benefit than their former spouse would. This does not have to be addressed in your final divorce decree for you be entiteld to the benefit. 

A person who wants to claim benefits based on a former spouse's work record would need to be unmarried and age 62 or older. Finally, that former spouse would need to be entitled to collect benefits. Individuals may be able to start claiming their benefits at age 62. However, the full retirement age is 67 for anyone born after 1960, so collecting benefits early may result in smaller monthly payments.

In the event that a person was married twice for a decade or longer, that individual can choose which spouse's record to base their benefit on. It is also important to note that anyone who qualifies for benefits on their own will receive them in addition to benefits based on a spouse's record. The combined amount cannot exceed the maximum that a person is entitled to collect.

In a divorce, an individual may be entitled to spousal support and other financial assistance. Depending on the length of a marriage, a person may be allowed to collect government benefits based on work performed by a previous husband or wife. These benefits generally cannot be negotiated out of a final divorce decree as it doesn't impact a working spouse's ability to collect. A legal professional may provide more insight into how a person may request these payments.

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