Social Security – The Ten Year Rule in Divorce

Social Security spousal benefits are an often mis-understood complication in Divorce Financial Planning. A divorced individual can receive spousal (derivative) benefits based on the work record of their former spouse if the marriage lasted 10 years or longer. This is an important asset in long term marriages where one spouse did not work outside the home or earned substantially less than their spouse.

What if the marriage is not so long term? Every so often we work with individuals or couples who have separated after 9 years of marriage and we have to investigate the possible eligibility for spousal benefits. For purposes of determining whether you meet the Social Security Administration’s 10 year marriage requirement, the marriage duration ends on the date when the divorce is finalized, NOT THE DATE OF SEPARATION. This allows for some strategy in situations when a marriage ends before the ten years required. When you have an amicable situation it may be possible to delay the date of the final divorce in order to reach the 10 year requirement. This is especially valuable when looking at marriages and subsequent divorces later in life.

This is just one example of the advantage gained in working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® in handling your divorce.  An experienced CDFA® will ensure a more secure, comfortable post-divorce future for both parties.  Make sure you sit down with a CDFA® before finalizing your settlement agreement.