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Divorce can impact social security benefits

The divorce process undoubtedly affects each party's finances now and in the future. Pennsylvania couples going through the divorce process need to know how their personal finances will be impacted so they can plan accordingly. As for future finances, it may surprise some to know that social security benefits can be accrued and distributed after a divorce.

If an ex-spouse is 62 years of age or older and the marriage lasted 10 years or more, that person may be eligible for benefits that stem from the earnings of the other spouse. However, there are certain provisions to this rule. If a former spouse's benefits are less than the other person's benefits, he or she cannot be eligible for those benefits. Also, an ex-spouse cannot collect his or her own benefits plus benefits from a former spouse.

Remarriage can also impact the eligibility of receiving an ex-spouse's social security benefits. If a person remarries, they can no longer collect an ex-spouse's benefits. However, if that second marriage ends by divorce, death or annulment, the door to collect benefits from a first spouse may then be opened once again.

There are very specific laws and provisions pertaining to how the social security benefits of Pennsylvania couples can be distributed after divorce. Because of the complications and timeline issues, it is best to receive up to date and accurate information about benefits and collection rights. For some ex-spouses, the potential to receive social security benefits based on the earnings of an ex-spouse can be a means of support that is much needed and can make a huge impact on that person's ability to remain financially stable.

Source: philly.com, "Investing in You: Financial help for the no-longer-married", Erin Arvedlund, May 31, 2015

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