Aging Options

Ending a marriage can throw a wrench in your retirement plans

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It used to be that older people just didn’t get divorced.  Of course it’s not that they never got divorced; it’s that the incidence of divorce among people 50 and over was very small compared to the rest of the population. 

In 1990, less than 10 percent of people in that age group dissolved their marriages.  Twenty years later, 25 percent of individuals getting divorced were 50 or older.  One in three Baby Boomers is single and single Boomers are more vulnerable economically and socially and tend to also have poorer health.

The financial implications for gray divorces (the name given for divorces among older couples) are not completely known since there is little research so far but it doesn’t take a study to understand that a retirement plan for two people that is split in half will be a great deal less comfortable for either member of the relationship than when it was still whole especially if there wasn’t much of a plan to begin with.

Depending on the financial expert, retirement costs 30 percent to 50 percent more for divorced Baby Boomers than for Boomer couples.  While younger divorce couples have years to make up the economic losses, for Baby Boomers close to retirement, their window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

If you are 50 or over, considering divorce should include reviewing the financial consequences especially for women as they already bear the burden of lower wages, shorter work lives and longer overall lives.

An article in the online version of USA Today offers these recommendations for divorcing couples who are staring retirement in the face:

  • Hire a financial advisor when you hire the divorce lawyer.  The pool of money will now be split in half.  The lawyer and the advisor can work together to help create a settlement to lessen the financial impact of the divorce.
  • It will take time to rebuild credit, savings and investments.  That may mean postponing retirement, reducing your lifestyle or saving a lot more.
  • Provide less support to your adult children.

You can also add to that list:

  • Look at long term care planning.  For married couples, the first individual to fall ill or disabled is generally cared for by the well spouse.  That option goes away due to a divorce and as it’s likely one of if not the most expensive aspect of aging, considering how it will be handled in the future needs to be at the forefront of retirement planning.

Social Security planning should also factor into retirement planning.   Married couples have a great many options for maximizing their Social Security benefits.  When you’re thinking about your Social Security benefits, keep in mind that a marriage can add hundreds of dollars a month to your benefit even if the marriage has since been dissolved or your spouse has since died.  If you need claiming information on Social Security benefits, please e-mail us at for white papers that cover those topics.

Just as a marriage can improve your Social Security benefit outlook, it can also hurt your benefits.  It’s important to understand how a late-life marriage can impact your benefits if you choose to make such a move prior to age 60.

There is often a societal assumption that the higher breadwinner in a marriage is the man.  While that may have been the case in the past, it is becoming less the case as the Boomers age.  Social Security is gender neutral, meaning that benefit claiming strategies for married, divorced or widowed individuals work for either gender.  Don’t automatically assume that because you are male, that you have fewer claiming options.  It’s always best to consult with a Social Security expert such as Julie Price (she can be reached at 1-877-76-AGING) to solidify Social Security planning.

New Social Security regulations also provide benefits to Same-Sex couples regardless of which state they live in.  Please read this article for more information on the effects of the recent DOMA ruling.

If you are retiring or retired and already divorced and are considering a marriage, please ask for our white paper on Second Marriages by contacting us at


Need assistance planning for your successful retirement? Give us a call! 1.877.762.4464

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