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Social Security: What Happens to Spousal Benefits If You're Divorced but Remarried?

One of the biggest gray areas when it comes to Social Security concerns what happens when you get a divorce. Does this terminate your right to benefits tied to your former spouse's work history? And, more specifically, does the answer to this question change if you later get remarried?

Here's the answer: So long as you were married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, then a divorce will have no bearing whatsoever on your ability to claim spousal benefits. But if you subsequently get remarried, then it could. 

As a general rule, a remarriage will terminate your eligibility for spousal benefits stemming from your ex's work history.

One exception is if the remarriage occurred after you turned 60. In this case, the latter marriage will not prevent you from becoming entitled to benefits on your prior spouse's Social Security earnings record.

And a second exception is if your subsequent marriage ends as well. According to the official explanation from the Social Security Administration, "If you remarry before you turn 60 and that marriage ends, you may become entitled or re-entitled to benefits on your prior spouse's earnings record."

In other words, as Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield explains in the following video, it doesn't matter if you're remarried or not. What matters is if you're remarried at the time you apply for benefits.

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John Maxfield
JohnMaxfield37

John has been writing for The Motley Fool since 2011. As a senior banking analyst, he covers the financial industry and the nation's largest banks in particular. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from Lewis and Clark College and a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University. He's a licensed attorney in the state of Oregon, and resides in Portland with his wife and twin sons. View John Maxfield's profile on LinkedIn

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