Centuori & Associates, PC

Many Arizona readers are aware of the divorce rumors surrounding the marriage of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. The couple are approaching their 10th wedding anniversary, which serves as an important landmark among married couples. Spouses who remain married for at least 10 years before seeking divorce will have access to their former spouse's earnings record for the purpose of claiming Social Security spousal benefits.

For individuals who are divorced, but who were married for at least 10 years, it is possible to begin claiming against their former partner's work record as early as age 62. In order to do so, the claiming spouse must not be married at the time the claim is made, and the benefit due to the former spouse must be larger than that of the claiming spouse. This allows the claiming spouse to delay filing his or her own claim until later.

This is the most important aspect of this Social Security strategy. By deferring a claim against one's own work history, an individual can allow the value of their eventual benefit to rise. The rate of increase is approximately 8 percent each year. By the time one reaches full retirement age, that will represent a significant increase.

So, for couples who have been married for nearly 10 years, it may make sense to delay divorce until that threshold has been reached. While Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner may not ever need to worry about maximizing their Social Security benefits, most Arizona residents should pay close attention to the matter. At the end of the day, the ability to claim against the work record of a former spouse could man a world of difference to one's retirement strategy.

Source: marketwatch.com, "Why Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck shouldn't rush into divorce", Joe Lucey, June 2, 2015

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