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How does divorce affect Social Security benefits?

Unless one is nearing the age to collect, Social Security benefits may not be a huge concern. However, for those couples in Massachusetts who are considering divorce, thinking about Social Security matters, as it can have a big impact on future finances. So, how does divorce affect Social Security?

Anyone who has been a part of the work force has paid into Social Security. The amount one collects during retirement is based on one's overall work record. For many married couples, there may be times that only one spouse is working, allowing the other to remain home to care for and raise children or for other purposes. This, of course, reduces the amount the stay-at-home spouse will be able to collect on his or her own. Fortunately, after getting a divorce, an ex-spouse may be entitled to collect a benefit amount based on his or her former spouse's work record.

There are, of course, very strict guidelines regarding this matter. The rules state that a couple must have been married for at least 10 years and that the individual seeking to collect on his or her spouse's work record must remain single until after the age of 60. If either of these guidelines are not met, these types of Social Security requests will be denied.

So, why does Social Security matter when going through the divorce process? During retirement, Social Security benefits can make or break the bank. It is something that many retirees count on to survive. Divorcing couples in Massachusetts would do well to consider how this will affect their future financial goals. By taking the time to think about it now, with the assistance of legal counsel and financial advisors, it can help both parties achieve fair and balanced divorce settlements.

Source:, "What does divorce have to do with Social Security benefits?", Bill Jones, June 25, 2016

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