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Know your post-divorce rights for Social Security benefits

Some divorcing couples in Maryland mistakenly assume that splitting up will affect how Social Security income is distributed once one or both ex-spouses reach retirement age. Part of this problem is caused by the Social Security Administration as the government agency generally doesn’t advertise what benefits don’t always change when couples split. Here is how you can avoid making mistakes that limit your income in retirement.

Eligibility for spousal benefits

Even though you are divorced, you may still be eligible for spousal benefits as long as you and your ex were married for at least 10 years. Another stipulation is that you cannot have remarried before age 60, or before age 50 if you are disabled. Not realizing that you are still entitled to spousal benefits following a divorce can cost you thousands of dollars of income over the remainder of your life.

Realize that you must file for spousal benefits and your own Social Security claim at the same time. A process called deemed filing ensures that when you file for benefits based on your ex’s work history, you also must file for your own. The rule is different for widows and widowers, so talk to your financial advisor.

You also do not have to wait for your ex to retire to file for spousal benefits. As long as you are 62 years old, you can file regardless of your ex’s work status.

Proper divorce planning can avoid mistakes

Divorce proceedings involve much more than dividing property between you and your former spouse. Planning for your life beyond marriage is key to ensuring that you’ll have enough money to live on in your retirement years. If you’re wondering what your status is for Social Security or other financial instruments, consulting with a legal professional can help you understand what your options are.