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Social Security considerations related to divorce

Even if a married individual in Kentucky has never worked or has a low income, they can still collect up to half of their spouse's Social Security benefits. This right doesn't necessarily go away simply because a marriage ends. If a couple was legally wed for at least 10 years, a former spouse can collect on their ex's record even if he or she has remarried provided they are still single and 62 or older. The ex must also be eligible for Social Security and have benefits greater than what their former spouse would receive.

If a divorced spouse meets these requirements, their Social Security benefits may be equal to half of their ex's full retirement amount or disability benefit, as long as they are at full retirement age. Benefits taken at the minimum age of 62 will be slightly less. Also, a former spouse divorced for at least two years may still be able to receive benefits from an eligible ex's record even if they haven't applied for them.

Generally, a spouse who remarries gives up their right to collect benefits from their ex's record. However, they may be able to collect their new spouse's benefits if they are at least 62 and that spouse is also receiving benefits. It may also be possible for a remarried spouse to once again collect on their first spouse's record if their new marriage ends in death, divorce, or annulment.

In addition to Social Security benefits, a divorce attorney may recommend that a client consider other assets they may be entitled to. With 401(K) accounts and similar workplace plans, however, a court order that's separate from the divorce agreement is necessary. Also, if it's suspected that a spouse is hiding assets or under-reporting their income, a lawyer may ask an impartial forensic accountant to investigate.

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