Factoring Social Security into Massachusetts property division

For Massachusetts couples who are considering a late life divorce, the financial aspects of ending their marriage have a measure of urgency that differs from that experienced by younger spouses. Older Americans simply have less time left within the workforce to recover from serious financial losses. This gives an added weight to the property division decision-making process that comes with any divorce.

For spouses who are facing the end of their marriage as retirement approaches, it is important to understand the ramifications that various property division choices can bring. One aspect of this involves determining the Social Security benefits that one is entitled to, and planning other retirement income and savings around those benefits. For example, many spouses are unaware that they are able to claim a spousal benefit based on the work record of a former spouse, even when the marriage ends in divorce.

In order to claim the spousal benefit, the claiming party and the former spouse must both be at least 62 years old. The marriage must have lasted for at least ten years, and the divorce must be final at least two years prior to making the claim. In addition, the claiming spouse cannot be entitled to a higher benefit based on his or her own work record.

These benefits, and the manner in which an individual chooses to claim their overall Social Security benefit package, can have a great deal of impact on their financial stability during retirement. For example, a Massachusetts spouse who can begin claiming a spousal support benefit early might choose to delay claiming on his or her own record until they reach their full retirement age. Doing so would allow them to earn credits for postponing benefits, resulting in a far bigger monthly payment once on full Social Security. The best way to negotiate for a solid property division package is to have a full understanding of the Social Security benefits that will become available during retirement.

Source: Huffington Post, How Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security, Jim T. Miller, Nov. 11, 2013

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