Editors' pick: Originally published Dec. 1.
Marriage, it's said, comes and goes, but divorce is forever. Evidence of that can be found in the fact that, even if you've been divorced for decades, you can still receive Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse's earning record.
Filing to receive an ex-spouse's benefits can increase your Social Security benefits if you were out of the workforce for a long while being a stay-at-home parent. It may also make sense if you didn't work much, because you were caring for ailing parents or experiencing a lengthy illness or spell of unemployment.
"If you're divorced and your former spouse had a more lucrative work history so they'd get a large benefit, it's to your benefit to collect based on their work history," explains Jose Reynoso, a partner with New York-based Clarfeld Financial Advisors.
Before you rush to file for your ex's benefits, there are a number of limitations to consider. First, you only can receive half the benefit your ex is entitled to. If you and your former spouse have a roughly equivalent earnings history, it's not likely to help to seek half of your ex's benefits.
Also, this option is only available if you were married for at least ten years, have been divorced for at least two and have not remarried. Does this suggest that the timing of marital events and financial security in retirement may be related? It does.