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Divorcing to get survivor benefits from an ex-spouse

In his regular “Social Security Matters” column, retired long-time Social Security employee Tom Margenau discusses a question which occasionally arises in Social Security circles: Should I divorce my current spouse to collect a higher survivor benefit from my deceased ex-spouse? It’s a real dilemma faced by some older folks who have married more than once, and Mr. Margenau addresses it by relating a story of his interaction with a nice lady about her options as her ex-spouse’s survivor.  In an interesting twist, Tom explains that the normal 2-years-divorced requirement refers to collecting benefits from her current husband, not her deceased first husband, so she could, if she wishes, divorce her current husband and collect a substantially higher benefit from her ex’s record. Should she do it? Obviously a difficult choice, but one that could mean a life-changing financial benefit. Click here to read Mr. Margenau’s column at (AZ).

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