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Divorce and remarriage affect Social Security benefits

For residents of Massachusetts and other parts of the country, divorce and remarriage can have an impact on their rights to their ex-spouse's Social Security benefits. The United States Social Security Administration allows ex-spouses to collect Social Security and survivor benefits only under certain conditions. They have to have been married for at least 10 years and must remain single to keep receiving spousal benefits.

If the survivor is caring for a child who is under age 16 or disabled, however, they do not have to meet the 10-year requirement to receive survivor benefits. The past work record of an ex-spouse can also have an impact on the amount of benefits received after a divorce.

Often, after getting remarried, ex-spouses cannot collect Social Security or survivor benefits from their exes. They are entitled to their new spouse's benefits under the law, but they generally have to wait up to a year after getting married. People over age 60, however, can still receive survivor benefits after remarriage. Sometimes, ex-spouses can postpone receiving benefits until later to get a higher amount.

During a divorce, property division, visitation rights and spousal benefits are often points of negotiation for ex-spouses. Sometimes, mediation can allow ex-spouses to come to agreements on cars, properties or joint custody, but insurance plans and benefits can be a little trickier to negotiate, especially with definite rules in place governing Social Security and survivor benefits. An attorney who handles divorce cases may be able to advise clients on which benefits they are entitled to upon getting divorced or remarried.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Social Security: How Divorce and Remarriage Affect Your Benefits," Dan Caplinger, March 28, 2015

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