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Divorce and Social Security

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For many older clients going through a divorce, of their first questions is about social security. Will they be able to collect social security based on their ex-husband or ex-wife’s employment after the divorce?

The answer can be found on the Social Security Administration’s Web Site.

That Site sets forth a number of simple criteria which will enable you to determine whether you might be able to collect even after a divorce. The criteria are:

1. You must be currently unmarried.

2. You must be age 62 or older.

3. You must have been married to this person for over 10 years.

4. Your ex must be legally entitled to receive retirement benefits, disability benefits or both; and 

5. The amount you are entitled to receive from social security based on your own work record is less than your ex will get.

If you qualify, you can generally get 50% of the social security benefits of your ex-husband or ex-wife. Keep in mind, however, that if you remarry, you are out of luck, you will no longer be entitled to receive those benefits but it only takes one year to become eligible to receive your new wife or husband’s benefits if your own work record won’t get you there.

Either way your getting that 50% does not effect how much your ex or your new spouse receives from social security. 

A final word of advice though if you continue to work and receive those social security benefits based on your ex’s work record, you could receive less in the future based on your own earnings.

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