For Mary McCurnin and husband Ron Bednar, money trouble has followed health trouble. In 2003, the couple declared bankruptcy after their insurance covered only 10 percent of treatment costs for her breast cancer and his intestinal bleeding. In 2004, McCurnin's breast cancer returned, and Bednar underwent open heart surgery.
Now, after repeatedly refinancing their house to pay medical bills and living expenses, they're broke. To improve their chances of growing old together, they've filed for divorce.
"It occurred to me that I could get my first husband's Social Security," said McCurnin. Her first husband, to whom she'd been married 20 years, died in 1989. When she turns 60 in November, McCurnin said she will be eligible for $1,200 in monthly survivor's benefits from the previous marriage. As the Social Security Administration told her, she can't have the survivor benefit if she's married to someone else.