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Social Security payments on an ex-spouse's earnings

Even if a Texas couple gets a divorce, one spouse might be able to draw Social Security payments on the other's earnings if they were married for at least 10 years. A person cannot begin drawing these benefits until at least two years after the divorce, and both people must be at least 62 years old. However, it's possible to draw a larger payment by waiting until the full retirement age of 67 and even more by waiting until the age of 70.

The person who gets the payment must not remarry. If they do, and that marriage does not last, it still might be possible to get the payments. These payments do not affect the payments of the spouse on whose working record they are drawn.

To calculate eligibility for payments on an ex-spouse's earnings, it is first necessary to determine the Primary Insurance Amount. This takes the monthly average of the 35 highest-earning years of a person's working life. The monthly average is the Social Security payment a person will receive at full retirement age. This amount subtracted from half of the ex-spouse's PIA indicates whether there can be an additional payment. Any positive amount is the monthly payment from the spouse's earnings that the lower earning ex will receive. If the number is negative, there will be no payment.

In a community property state like Texas, if there is not a prenuptial agreement, most assets acquired after marriage are considered marital property. This means that in addition to Social Security payments, a person might also receive a portion of the other spouse's pension or retirement plan. Bank accounts, other investments and a home may also need to be divided between the two. A lawyer could provide assistance throughout the property division process.

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