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Is your ex entitled to your Social Security once you divorce?

Many individuals rely heavily on their retirement, Social Security (SS) and other benefits to cover their expenses as they age. This is why it can be quite nerve-wracking for many if they're presented with divorce papers later in life.

You may be concerned about your ability to maintain the same standard of living that you've grown accustomed to over the years. If you throw into the mix that your ex may be entitled to a portion of your SS benefits if you divorce, it may make things even more stressful for you.

Spouses who were married to a husband or wife for at least 10 years may be entitled to a portion of their ex's SS benefits in divorce. Former spouses are generally entitled to one-half of their ex-husband's or wife's SS benefits. They may not be entitled to those benefits if they remarry, however. Your ex may be able to start receiving them again if they have their marriage annulled, get divorced or become widowed.

It's even possible for your ex to apply for benefits that you've earned even if you haven't claimed them yourself. The two of you will need to have been divorced for at least two consecutive years before you ex can do that.

There are instances in which you and your ex may be eligible to both receive SS. In cases like this, the SS will generally pay your benefits first, then add an amount to help you approximate the amount that your ex receives.

Individuals born before January 2, 1954, who have reached full retirement age only have the option to receive their former spouse's benefits. Such individuals may qualify to receive their own SS payments at a later point. Individuals born on or after January 2, 1954, can generally receive both their own and their ex's benefits. Anyone who continues working while receiving benefits is still subject to certain earning limitations.

If you're getting divorced and your soon-to-be ex is over the age of 62, they may be entitled to some of your SS benefits. How much your ex is entitled to depends on how long you two were married, work histories and current marital statuses. An experienced divorce attorney here in Louisville can help you determine what types of benefits to which your spouse may be entitled under Kentucky law when negotiating a settlement in your case.

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  1. Charles W. Dobbins, Jr.

    Charles earned his J.D. degree from the University of Virginia in 1974

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