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Rules for Social Security payments after divorce

In a marriage, one spouse often makes less than the other. In some cases, this is the result of a deliberate decision while in others it may be simply a matter of career choices. Regardless of the reason, a person may need his or her spouse's Social Security payments to make ends meet after retirement. The decision to divorce could have some people in New Hampshire questioning how they will pay their bills.

Fortunately, a divorced spouse may still be able to collect spousal benefits even after the divorce. There are several factors that could impact this. First, the length of the marriage matters; the couple must have been married for 10 years. Additionally, the spouse with the lower income must remain unmarried. However, even if he or she does remarry, spousal benefits may be applicable if the second marriage ends, either due to divorce or death.

A person could be entitled to spousal benefits even if his or her former spouse has not retired. If both are 62 or older, even if the higher-earner is still working, the other spouse could still receive Social Security payments based on the work record of the other spouse. In this scenario, the divorce must occur at least two years before the request.

When it comes to a relationship that seems to no longer be healthy, difficult decisions often must be made. However, many people may choose to stay in an unhappy marriage simply because they feel they cannot afford to do otherwise. A frank conversation with an attorney with experience with divorce in New Hampshire can often help those considering ending their marriage better understand their options and financial outlook.

Source:, "How Divorce Can Impact Your Social Security Payments", Emily Guy Birken, Dec. 6, 2017

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