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What happens to your retirement if you get divorced over age 65?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce at an older age, particularly over 65, can significantly impact the retirement years.

In Illinois, understanding how this life event affects your retirement benefits is important for financial stability. It also offers peace of mind.

Impact on Social Security benefits

You may be eligible to claim Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record. This is often the case if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years before the divorce and you have not remarried. However, certain conditions must happen. They include your ex-spouse being eligible for Social Security benefits themselves.

Division of retirement assets

Retirement assets accumulated during the marriage are typically considered marital property and subject to division upon divorce. In Illinois, equitable distribution laws govern the division of assets, aiming for a fair distribution rather than an equal split. This means retirement savings, such as pensions, 401(k) plans and IRAs, could undergo division between spouses. The proportions depend on various factors such as the length of the marriage and each spouse’s financial contributions.

Pension rights and benefits

For couples where one spouse has a pension, divorce can impact the pension benefits of both parties. The non-employee spouse may be entitled to a portion of the pension benefits earned during the marriage. The division of pension rights often requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). It is a court order outlining the distribution of pension benefits between the divorcing spouses.

Health insurance coverage

Health care costs are a significant concern for retirees, and divorce can affect access to health insurance coverage. However, turning 65 triggers eligibility for Medicare, regardless of marital status.

Medicare provides important health care coverage for retirees, but navigating its complexities after divorce requires careful consideration. If you are eligible, you can enroll during specific enrollment periods.

Estate planning considerations

Divorce necessitates updating estate planning documents to reflect your new circumstances. This includes revising wills, trusts and beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Failing to update these documents could result in unintended consequences, such as your ex-spouse inheriting assets you intended for other beneficiaries.

Consulting with financial advisors and legal professionals can provide valuable guidance tailored to your specific situation.