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How Social Security benefits may be affected by divorce

Maryland residents who are getting a divorce might still be able to draw Social Security benefits on their former spouse's income in certain circumstances. The benefits the person receives from a former spouse must be higher than the ones they would receive. Social Security requires the equivalent of at least a 10-year work history to pay out, so for people who have not worked much throughout their life, this might be particularly important.

It is also necessary for them the benefits to have been married to their former spouse for at least 10 years. They cannot draw benefits from their ex-spouse if they have remarried unless that marriage ends in death or divorce. Drawing on the ex-spouse's benefits will not affect that person's benefits, and an individual can begin doing so even if the former spouse has not as long as the divorce was at least two years ago.

There are also limitations on when a person can begin drawing Social Security. Full retirement age may be anywhere from 66 to 67 depending on a person's year of birth. However, a person can start drawing on a former spouse's benefits at 62 although the amount will be permanently reduced. The maximum an individual can draw on an ex-spouse's benefits at normal retirement age is 50 percent.

A person who is considering divorce might have a number of questions about finances including what might become of any retirement accounts. This will depend upon a number of factors including what type of retirement account it is and whether the couple has a prenuptial agreement. In a high-asset divorce, there may be a number of other complexities such as investments, business ownership and real estate in other states that further complicate the division of property.

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