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How can a spouse collect Social Security benefits after divorce?


Residents of Colorado may have 401k plans and pensions, but, what many people may be relying on to supplement their retirement income is Social Security benefits. They should be aware, though, that if they divorce, there are rules regarding whether and how a person may be able to collect Social Security benefits based on the work history of their ex.

Generally, if the spouses' marriage lasted under one decade and the couple divorced, then a person may not be able to collect Social Security benefits based on the work history of their ex. However, if the spouses' marriage lasted a decade or more and the couple divorced, then a person may be able to collect Social Security benefits based on the work history of their ex.

There are other rules to consider, however. First of all, to collect Social Security benefits based on an ex's record, a person must be age 62 or above. Also, in certain circumstances, a person may be able to collect Social Security benefits based on their ex's record even if their ex has not begun collecting Social Security benefits for themselves yet. However, in order to do so, 24 months or more must have passed since the couple ended their marriage.

Also, if the spouse collecting benefits based on their ex's record subsequently marries after the divorce, they can no longer collect based on their former spouse's record. However, if their ex subsequently marries after the divorce, they can continue collecting based on their ex's record. There are also special rules that must be followed if a person wants to collect survivor benefits if their ex passes away, which we will not discuss in this post.

In the end, it is important to understand how divorce will affect a person's retirement income, especially if that person divorced late in life. Social Security benefits are crucial for many retirees, so a person should seek the help they need to make sure they are receiving what they are owed in Social Security following a divorce.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Divorced? Here's What You Need to Know About Social Security," Dan Caplinger, Oct. 12, 2017

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