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How to draw on a former spouse's Social Security benefits

Some divorced people in Massachusetts might be able to draw Social Security based on their ex-spouse's benefits. This may be possible if the two were married for at least 10 years and the person who wishes to draw on their spouse's income would get less if they used their own Social Security benefits. Doing so does not reduce the benefits that the other person will receive. A person can draw up to half of their former spouse's benefits, but if they remarry, they will no longer be eligible unless that marriage ends in divorce, death or an annulment.

This could be an alternative for a person who has never worked outside the home or who only did so for a few years. People must accumulate a work history that is the equivalent of at least 10 years before they can begin to draw on Social Security benefits.

An individual can begin drawing on their ex-spouse's benefits at the age of 62 even if the spouse has not started doing so as long as the divorce was at least two years earlier. However, those benefits will be reduced permanently. Full retirement age is calculated based on a person's year of birth and varies from 66 to 67.

Social Security is one way that people can help secure their future retirement after a divorce. Retirement accounts may also be split between spouses. One spouse might be required to support the other one for a period of time until that person becomes employed. It may be possible for people who are divorcing to make these decisions as well as ones about child custody and visitation by themselves with the assistance of their respective attorneys instead of going to court. A mediator may be used in case of a divorce dispute to help resolve any conflicts and reach an agreement.

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