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Factoring Social Security benefits into property division

Many Pennsylvania residents fail to consider how Social Security comes into play during the course of their divorce. This is especially true for spouses who are decades away from retirement age, and for whom Social Security is little more than an abstract concept. In reality, however, Social Security benefits and divorce are closely connected and should be considered when creating a property division settlement.

For spouses who were married for 10 years or longer, it is possible to claim Social Security benefits against the work record of a former spouse. There are certain rules that must be followed when making such a claim. For example, the claiming party must be unmarried at the time the claim is made and must also be at least 62 years of age.

Having the ability to claim Social Security benefits on an ex spouse's insurance amount allows the claiming party to let his or her own Social Security benefit grow. Once he or she reaches full retirement age, that can translate to a significant sum of additional income. It is important to note that even individuals who remarry can still claim against the work record of an ex, as long as the claiming party is not married at the time of filing.

That means that Pennsylvania residents who are considering divorce and who are nearing their 10-year anniversary should tread carefully. In some cases, postponing divorce for a matter of months could translate into tens of thousands of dollars during retirement. Having that benefit, along with a carefully negotiated property division settlement, can lead to a secure financial foundation for retirement years.

Source:, "Divorced? Here's What You Need to Know About Social Security", Dan Caplinger, Oct. 12, 2017

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