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Some of the Social Security implications of a divorce

An Oklahoma resident who is considering filing for a divorce might not think much about retirement implications if the marriage has been short-lived. However, those approaching 10 years of marriage could be at risk of losing spousal benefits that would be theirs if they delayed divorce action until after reaching the 10-year mark. Even after a divorce, those who have been married to a spouse for 10 years or longer are entitled to Social Security spousal benefits on an ex-spouse's earnings record. This is true even if the ex-spouse remarries. Timing the divorce or the claiming of those spousal benefits can make a difference in their value.

A strategy involving filing and suspending one's own benefits in order to collect only spousal benefits has been in place for some time, but recent legislation has terminated this option for anyone who did not reach the age of 62 prior to Jan. 2, 2016. Those considering this approach to obtaining spousal benefits need to verify whether they are actually eligible. Those able to do so typically collect spousal benefits until they reach the age of 70, at which point their personal benefits will have had enough time to reach their maximum value.

Those considering a divorce while collecting spousal benefits in this manner can typically continue to collect after divorcing as long as the marriage lasted for at least 10 years. In cases of shorter marriages, spousal benefits could be forfeited. A delay in action until the 10-year mark could preserve the value and availability of these benefits.

Retirement funds accrued during a marriage could be subject to property division during a divorce even if the marriage has not lasted for very long. A qualified domestic relations order is used to direct the administrator of a pension or other retirement account in separating funds that have been divided as part of the divorce decree.

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