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The impact of divorce on Social Security: Part I


A Virginia couple that plans on getting a divorce is often burdened with the financial impact that commonly occurs right after the divorce. Many people in the United States are living on Social Security. Social Security disability is a federal grant that often helps people who cannot work due to their physical or psychological disability. Thus, many families depend on those federal grants in order to sustain their households. If such a couple gets divorced, Social Security benefits often become the financial focus of the divorce.

In many cases, the one ex-spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits in the event that the other ex-spouse is eligible for that federal grant. It must be noted that the ex-spouse will be eligible, even in cases where the ex-spouses have remarried. Being eligible for the Social Security benefits of the former spouse after divorce does not adversely affect the other spouse's financial position. With that in mind, many divorcing couples decide to consult an attorney in order to understand all of the nuances related to benefits.

Even if the divorced spouse who is claiming Social Security benefits from the person's retirement benefits after the divorce does not have enough work credit to claim the federal grant independently, that spouse might still be entitled to the other spouse's Social Security benefits if the other spouse is eligible and has worked for over 10 consecutive years.

Additionally, in the event that the former spouse gets Social Security benefits for disability, the other ex-spouse can receive benefits under a federal grant if the SSA finds the person to be eligible. Eligibility depends on various factors, including the work credit garnered by the former spouse as well as the length of the marriage itself. In a case where the former spouse claims benefits after having been married to the recipient of Social Security benefits for more than a decade and that spouse was not married at the time of the benefit claim , the attorneys can often help the spouse to obtain benefits after the divorce.

Source: AARP.org, "Social Security for divorced couples," Accessed on Aug. 5, 2015

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