Can I receive a survivor benefit from my ex-husband if I got remarried?

Published: July 10, 2023

Full question: I’m 65, in dire financial shape (making work difficult since pandemic). I qualify for a bewildering smorgasborg, all but Survivor/Widow’s… It seems perilous for me to go in without better preparation. I think it would be different if I didn’t actually need this so badly. My ex’s earnings are much higher than mine but I do qualify. I learned I may be eligible collect nearly 100% of my deceased ex-husband’s full retirement benefit at his FRA. But there are SO many. He died 14 years ago at aged 62 years, 6 mo. 11 days. I have married and divorced again, twice.

Hi there,

Thank you for your question about ex-spousal and survivor benefits. If I am reading your question correctly, you are entitled to your own retirement benefit, you were married and divorced 3 or 4 times, you are currently single, and one of your ex-spouses is deceased.

If all the marriages lasted for 10 or more years, you are potentially eligible for 1.) an ex-spousal benefit based on one of your living ex-spouses’ earnings record or 2.) a survivor benefit based on your deceased ex-spouse’s benefit.

Social Security law which limits payment to the higher of any two or more benefits payable to an individual at one time.

If the survivor benefit will be the highest, then you also have the option of collecting that benefit or your own retirement benefit and later switching to the other one later if it becomes higher.

Your situation has several variables that must be analyzed to determine your optimal claiming strategy. Without actual numbers, dates, ages, etc. and the use of powerful technology, we cannot give you a definitive claiming strategy. You can schedule a free consultation with an RSSA to learn more about receiving personalized assistance.

Take care,

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