Here’s How to Close the Gender Gap in 401(k) Plans

If you get divorced, are you entitled to a portion of your spouse’s retirement benefit?

Possibly. In most private-sector retirement plans, you would do this via a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) issued by the court, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You or your attorney should consult your spouse’s plan administrator to determine what requirements that order would have to meet.

You may be able to get Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s benefits instead of your own work record, even if you divorced decades ago, as long as you haven’t remarried. However, people with a long employment record will typically qualify for a bigger benefit based on their own earnings instead of a spouse’s. Social Security will give you the bigger of the two benefits, but not both.

The maximum benefit you can get based on the record of a spouse — whether you’re currently married or divorced — is 50% of their full retirement age benefit. Full retirement age is the age at which you qualify for 100% of your benefit; it’s 66 or 67, depending on when you were born.

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