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Claiming spouse's Social Security benefits after divorce

When a marriage is heading for divorce, it can feel as if there is an endless list of items to address. For many Tennessee couples, property division is a key concern. The decisions made during the divorce process can have lasting financial ramifications, especially for spouses who are nearing retirement age. The time to address retirement funding is during the negotiation period of a divorce, not after the process is complete.

For spouses who fail to properly integrate retirement planning into their divorce negotiations, one remaining option involves the ability to claim benefits from the Social Security record of a former spouse. In many cases, it is possible to do so, provided that the claiming spouse is unmarried at the time that the claim is made. In addition, if an individual was married to more than one individual, it may be possible to target the earning record of the highest-earning former spouse and make one's claim against that source.

If the former spouse is deceased, it is possible to claim survivor benefits. This is true even if the surviving spouse has remarried, as long as the new marriage took place after the age of 50. In addition, it is possible to claim against the record of a former spouse who has not yet begun the application process for his or her own benefits, as long as the claiming spouse is at least 62 years of age and the divorce was at least two years ago.

While the ability to claim against the Social Security record of a former spouse is a good option to have, it is by no means the best method of funding one's retirement. A better approach would be to include retirement funding in the negotiation process during a Tennessee divorce. By doing so, it is possible to receive a portion of existing retirement accounts as well as other assets that can be used to pay for one's needs in retirement

Source: Fox Business, "Divorce Doesn't have to Separate You from Benefits," Dr. Don Taylor, March 13, 2013

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