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Benefits worth seeking in a divorce

Social Security benefit checks are expected to replace roughly 40% of the income retirees in California will lose when they stop working. Typically, the size of a person's benefit check is based on his or her work record. However, it may be possible for an individual to claim Social Security benefits based on a spouse's work record. This is typically true whether that person is married or has gotten divorced.

There are several criteria that must be met for a divorced person to make a successful claim. First, the applicant must be at least 62, which is the earliest an individual can start obtaining benefits regardless of his or her marital status. Furthermore, an applicant must have been married to the former husband or wife for at least 10 years to obtain benefits based on that person's work record. Finally, the person seeking benefits cannot be married when the request is made.

A divorced individual could receive an amount equal to 50% of what the former spouse is entitled to. For most people, age 66 or 67 is considered their full retirement age. Those who file for benefits before that age will likely receive less than their full benefit amount. In some cases, individuals will receive benefits based on their own work record in addition to that of their former spouses.

Many different types of assets such as retirement accounts or stock options could be divided in a divorce. In many cases, the terms of the split can be negotiated by the parties with the assistance of their respective attorneys.

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