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Divorce and Social Security benefits

In Arkansas, we're seeing older individuals getting divorced all of the time, and this may result in a number of considerations being made regarding retirement and estate planning as well. One specific area of concern would be Social Security benefits.

If specific circumstances are met, individuals that have been married for ten years and are currently unmarried may be entitled to a higher Social Security benefit. A spouse may be eligible for their own retirement benefit as well if the couple has been divorced for at least two years. Finally, a spouse maybe entitled to benefits if the other spouse happens to die and that person is at least 60-years old, or 50-years old and disabled.

But though the Social Security Administration may allow that benefits may be doled out in this matter, there are many other questions that may need to be taken into consideration when exploring this area and deciding what a divorce decree should contain. Will these benefits still be adequate to support one's lifestyle? Are there alternate streams of income such as retirement accounts available? Have all divorce assets been disclosed by both parties?

These are only considerations that may need to be looked in if planning on a divorce. However, individuals should nevertheless consult with an attorney experienced in divorce work and that understands the various state and federal regulations that govern this particular area.

There is no such thing as a simple divorce. The rules for divorce, alimony and child support have evolved over the years. Also, every divorce is singular and deserves independent attention by the attorneys and the court handling the case.

Source: CNN Money, "How does divorce affect Social Security Benefits?" by Austin Kilham, Dec. 31, 2012

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