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New York divorce: Social Security a consideration in grey divorce

With an increasing number of couples over the age of 50 getting divorced after decades of being married, what happens to each party's potential Social Security check can become an issue. There are numerous financial issues to be resolved when a couple gets a divorce, but more New York couples who are getting what are termed "grey divorces" need to add this issue to the list. According to the Social Security Administration, anyone married at least 10 years may be eligible to receive a portion of their ex-spouse's benefits.

As long as the party applying for a portion of their ex-spouse's benefits is over the age of 62 and unmarried, they may be entitled to up to half of their ex-spouse's benefits. Whether or not the ex-spouse is remarried won't affect this, but the remarriage of the party applying for the benefits does make a difference. Benefits will cease if the party receiving the portion gets remarried, but benefits may resume if that marriage ends. These restrictions do not apply if the receiving party is a widow or widower.

Further, if the spouse whose benefits are being sought is still working, the parties have to be divorced for two years before the applying spouse can receive benefits. This restriction does not apply if the spouse whose benefits are being sought is already receiving benefits. Of course, as a general rule, the receiving party still has to be at least 62 years of age.

Those New York couples who are getting a divorce may want to be sure they are at least aware of what will happen to their Social Security when the divorce is final. Since many of the older couples getting divorced have likely been married at least 10 years, a review of each party's Social Security benefits may be needed. It may make sense to address the issue in a divorce settlement.

Source:, "Filing for divorce can raise Social Security questions," Holly Nicholson, Nov. 3, 2012