Family law: Don’t forget about Social Security benefits

| Feb 27, 2019 | Family Law |

Despite being emotionally prepared to file for divorce, many people in Michigan delay filing for divorce because they feel as if they are not financially ready. This effect might be especially pronounced among Baby Boomers and those either close to or in retirement. Many are justifiably concerned about their financial security during retirement and the implications of splitting their retirement assets during divorce. In family law, not everyone understands that drawing Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse’s work history is possible.

When planning for retirement, many people take predicted future Social Security benefits into account. For married couples, these benefits account for 48 percent of regular income. Unmarried Americans report that these benefits make up 69 percent of their income during retirement. With Social Security benefits playing such a major role in retirement income, understanding how to access those benefits is essential.

An individual who was married for at least 10 years can generally draw their benefits based on their ex’s — not their own — work history. However, this only applies if the benefits they otherwise qualify for are less than those for their ex. Individuals must also be at least 62 years of age, although it is possible to delay receiving benefits as well.

Even if a person will not qualify for Social Security benefits for several years, he or she should still make an effort to understand which benefits will be available in the future. Those who have a better understanding of their current and future finances will likely be better equipped during property division. In general, those in Michigan who can negotiate and compromise when necessary while dealing with family law issues can ensure their own financial security after divorce.

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