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Social Security and divorce

If you are divorced you may be entitled to a portion of your ex-spouse’s Social Security retirement benefit. If so you will increase your benefit without reducing the ex-spouse’s benefit.

If you were married for at least 10 years, are at least age 62 and are not re-married at the time you apply for benefits, the Social Security Administration will look first at the benefit you qualify for under your own work record. They will then look at your ex-spouse’s benefit. If one-half of the ex’s benefit is more than your own, then you will collect the larger benefit.

You don’t have to wait until your ex retires, although he or she must be at least 62.

Qualifying for part of an ex’s benefit does not reduce what the ex will receive when he or she retires. They will still receive the full benefit they are entitled to under their own work record. So in the case of a divorce and Social Security benefits, 1 + 1 can equal more than 2.

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