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What happens to Social Security benefits after divorce?

Planning for retirement is important for all residents of Gig Harbor. Many people rely in part on Social Security benefits after they retire to make ends meet. However, if couples divorce after many years of marriage, they may wonder how their divorce will affect their ability to receive Social Security benefits.

To start off with, in general, an individual who was married and has since divorced may be able to seek Social Security benefits after they divorce that relate back to their ex-partner's income if the marriage had spanned at least 10 years. However, the 10-year marriage requirement with regards to Social Security benefits after divorce must be consecutive.

In addition, what happens if a couple divorces, each partner receives Social Security benefits and then one partner passes away? In these situations, it is possible that the surviving partner could be considered a "surviving divorced spouse." If this is the case, the surviving partner may seek the same amount of Social Security benefits that a married surviving spouse would receive, which may amount to as much as 100 percent of the payments the deceased individual was entitled to when he or she passed away. However, again, the 10-year marriage requirement applies in these situations.

As this shows, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the laws regarding Social Security. The length of one's marriage and the timing of one's divorce can impact whether or not an individual can seek benefits based on the income an ex-spouse earned. This could be especially important if one spouse earned significantly more during the marriage than the other spouse. In the end, individuals in Washington may be able to seek an appropriate amount of benefits after a divorce, even if those benefits relate back to their ex-spouse's earnings.

Source: FOX Business, "Social Security & Divorce: Timing Is Everything!," Gail Buckner, Jan. 11, 2016

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