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Divorce and Social Security benefits planning

Georgians who are wanting to divorce but who have been married for less than 10 years may want to wait until they've hit the decade mark before filing. This is especially true in marriages in which one spouse has had a stay-at-home role or in those in which there is a large income disparity between the two.

A person who reaches retirement age may opt to get retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration based on their former spouse's earnings record. Divorced people are only able to do this if their marriage lasted at least 10 years. If a couple divorces and then remarries within the same year, the time is additive and may still qualify them. However, if more than a year passes between a divorce and remarriage, the remarriage will not be added to the length of the prior marriage for eligibility.

The Social Security Administration is very strict with applying the 10-year rule for benefits eligibility. Even if people get divorced just a few days shy of reaching their 10-year anniversary, they will not be allowed to claim benefits based on their former spouse's income. A person who is eligible may receive up to 50 percent of the benefits the former spouse would be eligible to receive.

Many people who want to end their marriage try to rush the divorce process along. Taking the time to consider how this may impact them financially is a good idea. A person who makes a lot less than their spouse and whose crumbling marriage is near the 10-year mark may want to prolong filing in order to maintain eligibility for Social Security benefits based on the other spouse's earnings history.

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