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How will my divorce affect Social Security eligibility?

You are probably aware that when you reach retirement age, you are eligible to collect Social Security. The amount of benefits you receive are generally based on how much income you made while you were working. However, if you are divorced, you may be able to collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s income if that amount is higher.

According to MarketWatch, the Social Security Administration will take several factors into consideration when deciding the amount of your benefits. If you wish to collect based on your spouse’s earnings, your ex must be older than 62 at the time you are applying. In addition, you must not be married.

The key factor, however, in determining how much you can collect is the length of your marriage. In order to be eligible to collect on your spouse’s earnings, your marriage must have lasted 10 years. If your divorce is finalized even one day prior to the 10-year mark, you will lose that eligibility. Therefore, if you are considering a divorce or are in the process of getting divorced but are close to 10 years, you may want to wait to sign the papers until you reach this important threshold.

It is important to note that your collecting benefits based on your spouse’s income instead of your own does not in any way affect your spouse’s ability to collect Social Security or the amount that he or she is entitled to. Also, if your ex is remarried, what you collect has no bearing on what his or her spouse may be entitled to.

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