For (almost) every rule there are exceptions - For (almost) every rule there are exceptions - Mike Miller - August 21, 2014

There are more than 2,700 rules around Social Security claiming benefits and most of them can be broken

There are more than 2,700 rules listed in the Social Security Program Operations Manual System that govern benefits for retired and disabled workers, as well as their spouses, dependents and survivors. Although I haven't counted them up, sometimes I think half of those rules are exceptions to the regular rules.

As long as we're talking about breaking rules, here's another one for financial advisers to tuck away.

In general, your client may be able to collect spousal benefits even if her ex has not yet collected his — as long as he is old enough to collect and they have been divorced for at least two years.

But Social Security will waive the two-year requirement if the divorced spouse is at least 62 at the time of the divorce. The minimum 10-year marriage rule and unmarried status still applies, said Mike Miller, managing director of Integra Shield Management in Plymouth, Minn.

“I have been teaching Social Security workshops for more than five years and I have a niche working with divorcees and retirees,” Mr. Miller said in an e-mail.

“I probably would have never known this if it weren't for my working in these niche groups and stumbled upon it about a year ago,” he explained.

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