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Receiving Social Security benefits after divorce

Some Pennsylvania residents may not know that after 10 years of marriage or more, one party may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on the other party's work record in the event the marriage ends. At least two years after the divorce is final and after both parties turn 62 years of age, an application for benefits can be made. The potential receipt of these benefits is something that the parties may consider as they contemplate going forward with divorce proceedings.

Waiting until the federal retirement age, which is currently 66, could mean a larger amount of benefits. The Social Security Administration assumes that the receiving party wants to take the higher amount of benefits. However, it is possible to receive a lower benefit as a spouse and wait until age 70 to begin taking his or her own benefit after it appreciates in value. This could mean thousands in potential benefits for the recipient.

However, if the spouse receiving benefits through an ex-spouse's work record remarries, those benefits stop. After one year, however, the spouse becomes eligible to share in his or her new spouse's benefits. If a subsequent marriage lasts another 10 years, an individual may choose between the higher of the two benefits.

The timing of a Pennsylvania divorce filing is crucial when it comes to being eligible for the receipt of Social Security benefits based on the work record of the other spouse. Couples who are close to the 10-year mark may benefit from waiting to file. Even if neither party is currently eligible to receive Social Security benefits, meeting this first -- and most important -- criteria now will make receiving a spousal benefit possible in the future.

Source: Fox Business, "5 Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Social Security Benefits", , May 13, 2014

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