Law Offices of Peter G. Aziz & Associates LLC
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How divorce may affect Social Security benefits

After a divorce, some people in New Jersey may be eligible to draw Social Security benefits on an ex-spouse's work record in retirement. The marriage must have lasted a minimum of 10 years, and there are a few other requirements.

It is possible to start claiming benefits at age 62 although the payments will be larger for people who wait until they reach full retirement age. If it is less than two years since the divorce, the ex-spouse must also have begun claiming the benefits, but if it has been at least two years, it is possible to start just as long as the ex-spouse is also of eligible age. The person cannot be remarried although the former spouse can be. Finally, the person's own Social Security benefits must be lower than those of the ex-spouse.

The reason for the final condition is that the person is eligible for up to 50% of the amount the ex-spouse will receive. If the person has never worked outside the home, the entire 50% will be paid. If the person also has a Social Security work record, those benefits will be paid along with the amount from the ex-spouse's benefit to make the total 50%. Therefore, if the ex-spouse's benefit is $1500 and the other person's is $600, the other person would get an additional $150.

Planning for retirement can be an important element of getting ready for a divorce in general Any retirement savings, which may be split as part of the property division that happens in a divorce, may not stretch as far since they will need to support two households instead of one. Older adults who are considering divorce may want to discuss likely financial outcomes with an attorney and make a plan that will ensure their financial stability.

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