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Goldman Law Offices

Drawing on an ex-spouse's Social Security payments

When people in Pennsylvania get a divorce after 10 or more years of marriage, a lower-earning spouse may be eligible to draw Social Security benefits based on the earnings of the higher-earning spouse. A former spouse who receives these benefits will lose them upon remarriage. In some cases, if that marriage ends in death or divorce, the person might be able to resume receiving the benefits.

For a person to start receiving an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits, the ex-spouse must have reached the age of 62. The person receiving the benefits must also be at least 62, and it must have been at least 2 years since the divorce. The ex-spouse's benefits are not affected by the other person's receipt of them.

A person is not required to start receiving benefits at age 62, and the benefits are bigger if a person waits longer. Benefits are calculated using formulas. Figuring out whether someone is eligible for spousal benefits involves subtracting the amount of money a person is due at full retirement age from 50 percent of the spouse's benefit. If the number is negative, there is no spousal benefit available. In this formula, the benefit amount is decreased if the person is not yet at full retirement age.

In a high-asset divorce, there may be many other benefits that must be valued and divided. This is the case whether one person earned significantly more than the other or both were high earners. For example, it might be necessary to divide a retirement account. This can be a complex process because depending on the type of account it is, a document known as a qualified domestic relations order might be needed to avoid tax and penalties. Some pension plans may have other regulations about division. Assets such as a closely held business, real estate and other investments may also result in a more complex divorce.

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Goldman Law Offices

90 E. State Street
Doylestown, PA 18901

Phone: 215-348-2605
Fax: 215-348-5247
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