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Property Division and Social Security Benefits

Imagine you are 62 years old and have recently gone through a divorce and spent much of your career time raising your and your former's spouses children. At some point in the marriage it was agreed that you would raise the children and forego your career while your spouse continued theirs. During divorce, property division can be a stressful issue and often the ability to receive Social Security benefits by the spouse who left the workforce is overlooked.

According to the Social Security Administration an individual can receive Social Security benefits based on their former spouse's work record even if that individual stopped paying into the system by leaving the workforce during marriage. A positive aspect of the rule is that the amount of benefits received by the individual who left the workforce does not affect the amount of benefits the former spouse receives. A few requirements must be met in order for the benefit to apply.

An individual may be eligible under the Social Security Administration's requirements if the individual is at least 62 years old, was married for 10 years or longer, has been divorced for two years or more and is not currently married. In addition, the benefit the individual is entitled to receive based on their work record must be less than the benefit received based on the former spouse's work record, and the former spouse must be entitled to receive Social Security benefits or Social Security Disability benefits. If the individual applying for the benefit remarries, then the benefit is not available unless the new marriage ends. Again, according to the Social Security Administration's rules receiving the benefit does not threaten property division and does not affect the former spouse's Social Security benefit.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorced and Retired: Don't Forget the Social Security Benefits," Gabrielle Clemens, 1/19/11

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