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Social Security retirement benefits can factor into divorce

Married couples might spend many years together and take practical measures along the way to plan for their retirement. As many people know, life can take twists and turns. After several years of marriage, a couple might come to the conclusion that divorce is the best option. In the process of getting divorced, however, couples will have to take time to sort through their financial affairs.

Property division is one of the most important aspects of divorce, because it can set the stage for each spouse's post-divorce financial stability. While certain assets and property, such as a couple's home, might be obvious topics of discussion during divorce, others may not stand out quite as much. For example, divorce can have an impact on Social Security retirement benefits.

When a divorced people meet the age qualifications to receive Social Security, they might be able to collect benefits based on their ex-spouse's work record. Outside the context of divorce, a person must have worked and paid into the Social Security system in order to receive benefits. However, divorce might change things.

There are certain requirements set by the federal government in order for divorce to affect the administration of Social Security payments. Namely, getting remarried automatically voids a person's ability to collect benefits on an ex-spouse's work record. However, a person could receive up to 50 percent of his or her ex-spouse's benefit when age qualifications are met and the marriage in question lasted at least 10 years. In the case that a person would receive a larger benefit based on his or her own work record, it won't be possible to collect from the ex-spouse's as well.

Of course, retirement-related questions are only one aspect of divorce. Still, it can be helpful for individuals to know how divorce will impact their present and future financial situation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security," Jim T. Miller, Nov. 11, 2013

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