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Claiming Social Security benefits after a divorce

Oklahoma couples whose marriages are ending may wonder how the divorce will affect their retirement plans. As long as a marriage lasted for 10 years or longer, the lower-earning spouse will be able to claim Social Security benefits based on the higher-earning spouse's earnings records. They can claim spousal Social Security benefits no matter how many years ago they divorced, just as long as they haven't remarried.

When a person's ex-spouse claims Social Security benefits based on their income, there will be no affect on the higher earner's Social Security benefits. The lower-earning ex-spouse can also decide to collect benefits before the higher-earning ex-spouse starts collecting benefits. The amount of Social Security benefits a person can collect is based on a percentage of the primary worker's average monthly income, indexed for inflation.

A divorced person who would like to claim Social Security spousal benefits based on their ex-spouse's earnings must be able to produce a marriage certificate and divorce decree. The Social Security Administration will also want to know the birth date and Social Security number of the applicant's ex-spouse. Applicants must be at least 62 years old to claim spousal benefits, and they can only do so if the benefits that they would be entitled to receive based on their personal earnings history would be lower.

People who are facing a divorce, especially later in life, often face severe financial challenges. They now have to be able to live on one income, and their expenses are not always cut in half. They may want to have legal assistance when attempting to structure a settlement agreement so that these issues can be addressed.

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