Can my wife collect survivor benefits from her previous husband?

Published: July 19, 2021

Full question: My wife is 62 and I am 61. Neither of us are collecting Social Security. She was married for over 10 years and her husband died. Can she collect Social Security on his work record until I retire? Or can she wait until she is 67 and transfer to her own retirement benefit?


If you and your wife were married prior to her turning age 60, she cannot draw survivor benefits on her previous husband’s work record.

If she was 60 or older when you married, she is eligible for survivor benefits from her previous husband. She may collect those now and switch to her own retirement benefit later if it is larger.

When you begin collecting retirement benefits, your wife may be eligible for spousal benefits based on your work record, but only if they are larger than her own retirement benefit or the survivor benefit from her previous spouse.

Take care,

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