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How divorce affects Social Security benefits

Texas couples who are getting a divorce might wonder whether it will affect their Social Security benefits. These benefits are calculated using a complex formula, and what constitutes "full retirement age" depends upon the year of birth. For those born after 1960, normal retirement age is at 67 years old. People have to accumulate the equivalent of 10 years in the workforce in order to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Divorced people who had been married for at least 10 years might be able to draw on their former spouse's benefits. It is necessary to be older than 62, and the benefits from a spouse's Social Security must be greater than their own benefits. At full retirement age, the maximum amount of benefits people can claim from their former spouse is 50 percent.

A person who remarries cannot draw on their ex-spouse's benefits unless that marriage has also ended. A person's Social Security benefits are not reduced if an ex-spouse is drawing on them. If a person has not yet begun collecting their Social Security benefits, their former spouse can still begin doing so as long as the divorce was at least two years ago.

There may be a number of bureaucratic and financial issues like this that divorce raises that people may not be aware of, and in a high-asset divorce, this is even more likely to be the case. Dividing a business may be particularly complex if there is no prenuptial agreement in place, and it may also be necessary to split investments and other complicated assets. If one spouse has not worked outside the home much during the marriage, they might be particularly concerned about their financial security and may want to discuss this with an attorney.

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