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Length of marriage and Social Security benefits

Pennsylvania residents who were married for at least 10 years and then divorced might be able to claim Social Security benefits on their former spouse's earnings. If they were married and divorced more than once for at least a decade each time, they might be able to choose which spouse's earnings they will draw upon. If the ex-spouse is deceased, this is possible as long as that spouse's benefit is more than the individual's. If the ex-spouse is still alive, the individual's must be less than 50 percent of the ex-spouse's.

There are restrictions on these benefits. A person who remarries is generally not eligible to draw on the ex-spouse's benefits. However, if the ex-spouse dies and they remarry after the age of 60, it might be possible. There may also be an exception regarding remarriage if both people in the new marriage are drawing ex-spouse or survivor benefits.

Some couples might choose to postpone their divorce until the 10-year mark has passed if their split is relatively amicable and they have been married for close to a decade. Doing so may result in significantly more financial security for a person in the long run.

An attorney might be able to point out potential benefits such as these and others to a client who is facing the end of a marriage. Even if a divorce is relatively straightforward, it might be helpful to work with an attorney to get advice on issues such as these. For example, an attorney may be able to discuss procedures for splitting a retirement plan or make suggestions regarding shared debt. In a high-asset divorce, an attorney might also be able to help a person stay focused on making sound financial decisions.

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