Included in the myriad of questions that I regularly receive from readers are questions about how a divorced person can collect benefits based upon his or her ex-spouse’s Social Security record. For a divorcee (as with many married couples) sometimes the ex’s benefits represent the lion’s share of the couple’s SS record. Because of this, many divorcees are very interested in knowing what benefits are available to them, and when. In addition, even when the divorced spouse in question is not the higher earner there are questions about benefits that can be quite difficult to find answers for.
Divorcing couples often face the need to split up some retirement account assets. This can be done from a retirement plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b), or from an IRA. Depending on which type of account you’re splitting, the rules are very similar but are referred to by different names. For a qualified retirement plan (401(k) or 403(b) plan), the operative term is Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO (cue-DRO). For an IRA, the action is known as a transfer incident to a divorce. We discussed the QDRO in several other articles, so we’ll focus on the transfer incident to a divorce in this article.