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Social Security benefits after divorce

For many people in Missouri, questions regarding how they will support themselves in their retirement is something that keeps them up at night. This is likely especially true for those who have recently gone through or are contemplating a divorce. However, even if the marriage is legally over, a spouse may still be entitled to a larger amount of Social Security benefits based on the former spouse's work history.

If a person is divorced but is receiving -- or entitled to -- less each month in Social Security benefits than their former spouse, he or she could be entitled to additional benefits. If this is the case, there are several other criteria that must be met. That is, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years and the lesser-earning spouse must be currently unmarried and 62 years old or older. The person is still entitled to these benefits even if their higher-earning spouse has remarried.

Those who want to receive the maximum amount of benefits should wait until they have reached full retirement age file for them. By waiting, the person can receive half of the amount to which his or her former spouse is entitled. Fortunately, the spouse with the higher amount of benefits based on work history will not receive a reduction in benefits even if his or her former spouse is receiving additional benefits.

There are people in Missouri who are currently in an unhappy marriage. Some -- especially those who may be older and have a limited work record -- may be hesitant to seek a happier life because of concern over their finances. However, there may be income of which many may be unaware, including more Social Security benefits based on their former spouses' work record. A professional with experience with family law can help those who are interested in seeking a divorce but are hesitant to do so because of financial concerns to fully understand the options available to them. 

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