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Why 10 is the magic number for divorce and Social Security

Many people in New York know that divorce is necessary sometimes. Broken trust, faltering communication, or simply a change in personalities or life goals makes ending a marriage the best option for some couples.

When a couple decides to divorce, they often want to get it over with quickly. Depending on how long you have been married, however, there may be good reason to wait.

If you have been married for 10 years or longer, you can qualify for Social Security retirement spousal benefits. If you get divorced after hitting the 10-year mark, you are eligible to collected divorced-spouse benefits, which could be worth thousands of dollars.

To qualify to collect retirement benefits from your ex-spouse, you must not remarry, your own benefits based on your own work must be smaller than what you would receive from your ex, you must be at least 62 years old, and you must have been married for a decade or more.

If you are considering getting divorced and you have been married for nearly 10 years, it may be worth prolonging the process so that Social Security divorced-spouse benefits could be an option for you. Of course, if your spouse would be collecting benefits from your record, you may want to approach things differently.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure that you get what you want out of your divorce is to work with an attorney who is familiar with the details that could affect your split. Simply being aware of things that could factor into your divorce will help you make the best decisions.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "How divorce, remarriage impact Social Security," Robert Powell, Feb. 18, 2014

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