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Divorce, Social Security and Your Options

If you're considering or are in the process of divorce, and you're just shy of your 10th wedding anniversary, you might want to wait a bit and use the time to brush up on all things Social Security before you make the break official.

And you especially want to do this given that lawmakers closed two benefit-boosting claiming strategies - the file-and-suspend and file-and-restrict - as part of last year's budget bill.

Social Security provides spousal benefits to divorced people if their marriages lasted at least 10 years.

For people planning on divorcing around the 10-year mark of a marriage, waiting a few months may result in higher Social Security payments if their spouses' earnings records are higher than their own.

If your divorce will be final at the nine-year-and-10-months mark, you might delay signing for a couple months, just to keep the door open to Social Security's former spouse benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), even if you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse's record (even if your ex-spouse has remarried) if:

· Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;

· You are not married;

· Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;

· The benefit that you are entitled to receive as an ex-spouse, is greater than the benefit you would receive based on your own work record; and

· You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Collecting ex-spousal benefits does not affect the ex's benefit or that of their current spouse if remarried. Also, unlike spousal benefits, both ex-spouses can collect this benefit off the other's record at the same time.

If you have been divorced at least two years, you are "independently entitled" to ex-spouse benefits. This means that even though your ex-spouse may not yet have applied for benefits, but can qualify for them, you are eligible and can receive ex-spouse benefits. If your ex-spouse remarries, he or she generally cannot collect benefits on your record unless their later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).

These are all great thoughts from our friends at MarketWatch. Understand that while social security is not marital property and not dividable between spouses, there is a great deal to consider when divorcing about future social security benefits. 

Only a highly experienced family law/divorce attorney can send you in the right direction to understand your rights. 

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