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Calculating Social Security benefits after divorce

Some divorced people in Florida might be able to draw Social Security benefits from an ex-spouse's earnings records. However, it is necessary that the ex-spouse have a higher income, and several other elements must also be in place.

Social Security benefits are determined by taking the best 35 years of a person's earnings and calculating the monthly average. This is known as the Primary Insurance Amount. To figure out a person's spousal benefit, the PIA should be subtracted from half of the spouse's PIA. A negative number indicates no spousal benefit is forthcoming while a positive number is the amount the person will receive.

In order for an ex-spouse to receive the benefit after a divorce, the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years, and the filing date must be at least two years after the divorce. The ex-spouse must not have remarried although it may be possible to draw benefits if the subsequent marriage ends. Both people must be at least 62, but the amount a person receives goes up after the age of 62. Therefore, it may be advisable to wait although this is based on individual circumstances. For example, in some cases, the wait from 67 to 70 does not result in any additional benefit. If an ex-spouse is receiving spousal benefits, the benefits of the other former spouse are not reduced in any way.

While Social Security benefits at best are a modest sum and thus are unlikely to play much of a role in a divorce aspect of a divorce, they could have an effect on a future modification of an alimony order. People who are in this position might want to meet with a family law attorney as well as perhaps with a financial adviser to see what the ramifications might be in the future.

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