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Don’t forget Social Security spousal benefits in your divorce

In divorces where couples have considerable assets to divide, they may not give much thought to Social Security spousal benefits, even if they’re nearing retirement age. Social Security benefits seem complicated enough without factoring divorce into the situation.

However, why not get the benefits that you’re entitled to when the time comes? After all, you and your spouse likely will have paid into Social Security for a number of decades.

Not all divorced people can claim ex-spousal benefits. There are several criteria you must meet:

— You and your spouse must have been married for at least a decade.

— You and your spouse must have been divorced for at least two years.

— You may not have remarried (although it’s fine if your spouse has).

There’s an exception to this final condition. If you remarry after the age of 60 and your spouse is dead, you can claim a benefit if it’s larger than yours.

There are a lot of strategies to making the most of your Social Security retirement benefits, regardless of your marital status, including deciding at what age to begin claiming them. The longer that you’re able to hold off on collecting them, the more money you’ll get, for example.

It’s a good idea to consider the ramifications of your divorce on your Social Security benefits if you and your spouse were wed for at least 10 years while you’re going through the process rather than waiting until you’re in your 60s.

You can both find out how much you’ve paid into the system and what your projected monthly benefits are by creating an account if you haven’t already. The amount might surprise you, especially if you’ve been working for many years. It’s also a good idea to seek guidance from your Nevada family law attorney as well as a financial advisor.

Source: NerdWallet, “Divorce Doesn’t Preclude Social Security Spousal Benefits,” Jim Ludwick, CFP, July 13, 2016

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