August 01, 2020 Feature

Consider Social Security

Kate Vetrano and Lydia S. Terrill

Social Security is a system of social entitlement that is neither welfare nor means-based. The Social Security system provides benefits not only during retirement, but also for survivors and dependents in case of death or disability. Although Social Security benefits are not marital property, they constitute income and deserve consideration in a divorce case. Benefits are not only a potential source of child support, spousal support, or alimony, but also may be additional income that lessens alimony obligations. Social Security benefits are received in one of two ways: (1) they are paid upon retirement, based on one’s contributions to the Social Security system, or (2) they are paid to a spouse or child of a contributor, in which case benefits are called “derivative benefits.”

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