Centuori & Alcoverde, P.C.

Many Arizona spouses are aware that they may be able to file a Social Security claim based on the earnings record of a former spouse. In order to do so, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years prior to divorce. Both spouses must also be a minimum of 62 years of age in order to begin claiming benefits. However, the way in which divorced spouses can claim spousal benefits has been altered.

Individuals who were born prior to 1954 may choose whether to begin claiming Social Security benefits based on their own record or that of their former spouse. Claiming spousal benefits allows individuals to let their own Social Security benefit grow until the age of 70. That can make a significant difference in the eventual bottom line.

Under the new roles, however, individuals born during or later than 1954 will be unable to choose which benefit to claim. When they are ready to retire, they will be required to file for all available benefits, including their own and those of a former spouse. They will be paid the higher of those two amounts.

For some Arizona couples, these changes could be impactful. This is especially true for couples who are nearing their 10 year anniversary and who would like the option of claiming spousal benefits. Understanding the new Social Security Administration rules can help couples determine a divorce strategy that is in line with their individual set of needs and goals. For many, achieving financial stability after a divorce is a top priority, and maximizing Social Security benefits is an important part of that process. 

Source: investmentnews.com, "New Social Security rules and divorce", Mary Beth Franklin, Nov. 15, 2016

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