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Collecting Social Security benefit after divorce

Floridians contemplating divorce may wonder how divorce will affect their Social Security benefits. Generally speaking it may be possible for a former spouse to receive Social Security benefits based on his or her ex spouse's record, provided that certain conditions are met.

In order to for a former spouse to get Social Security benefits based on his or her ex's record, he or she must be at least 62 years old and must have been married for at least 10 years or more prior to divorce. Additionally, the former spouse must be currently unmarried to be eligible for receiving the Social Security benefits on his or her ex's record, and the former spouse must also be entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits in general, the amount of which must be less than the benefits he or she would receive under his or her ex's record.

However, if the former spouse has remarried he or she can only apply for benefits once that later marriage has ended. It does not matter why the marriage ended. It could have ended due to death of the spouse, a divorce or even an annulment. Furthermore, a divorced former spouse is only eligible to receive exactly one half of his or her ex-spouse's retirement or disability benefit amount as long he or she applies for and start receiving benefits at their full retirement age. The amount of benefits that a former divorced spouse is receiving has no impact on the benefit amount a current spouse can receive. There may be other circumstances as well in which an individual can obtain Social Security benefits based on the record of his or her ex-spouse.

Social Security benefits are income, and the effect of divorce on Social Security benefits can be confusing to many. To understand the complexity surrounding divorce and Social Security benefits it is important to consult with a family law attorney, as this post does not offer legal advice.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Retirement Planner: Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse," Accessed Sept. 21, 2015

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