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Those in a 'Grey Divorce' May Face Social Security Issues

An increasing number of older couples in Los Angeles and nationwide are deciding, after decades of marriage, that their relationship is no longer viable and they want to divorce. Sometimes, this happens when a couple simply grows apart over time, and the split is amicable. Sometimes, this happens after years of arguing and resentment. And, still, sometimes this happens when couples have known for years that they were only staying together for the children. No matter what the circumstances, however, it is important to note that these "grey divorces" present issues not found in other divorces. One of those issues involves Social Security.

Usually, a couple's marriage must last a minimum of 10 years prior to divorcing in order for one partner to secure Social Security payments on their ex's record. Also, the couple must have been divorced for a minimum of two years before one partner, age 62 or above, can file for Social Security on their ex's record if the ex has not begun receiving Social Security payments. Moreover, to claim on an ex's record, the individual receiving benefits must not have remarried.

What this means is that for the initial two years after a couple divorces, an individual cannot receive Social Security payments based on their ex's record. That being said, the individual can still receive Social Security payments based on their own record, which they may do for a period of time before claiming on their ex's record in order to maximize benefits.

Determining when an individual can obtain Social Security payments based on their ex's record can be complicated, particularly if that individual wants to maximize their benefits. Because of these complexities, older couples facing a late-in-life divorce may want to seek the help they need to understand how it will affect their Social Security benefits.

Source: Investment News, "Gray divorce presents Social Security challenges," Mary Beth Franklin, March 10, 2017