I’m 71 and my ex-wife is 70. Her Social Security check is much larger than mine. We were married almost 25 years. Someone told me recently I’d be entitled to her benefit should she pass before I do. Is it true? This sounds wrong because she has been remarried for 10-plus years.

Yes. Her marital status is irrelevant. And your entitlement wouldn’t affect the amount her husband would receive as her survivor. He too would qualify for a widower’s benefit.

To claim a benefit based on a deceased former spouse’s record, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years and you must be currently unmarried.

You can start collecting this survivor benefit as early as age 60. You also get two extra breaks available only to widows and widowers: If you’re under full retirement age but at least 62, you can claim either your reduced survivor benefit or a reduced benefit based on your own work record, and after reaching full retirement age, switch to the other, unreduced benefit. And you can remarry after age 60 (or after age 50 if you’re disabled) without losing your survivor benefit.

I qualify for spousal Social Security based on my ex-wife’s earnings record. We were married for more than 10 years, I’m unmarried, my spousal benefit exceeds my own benefit, and we’re both at least 62 years old. If I get married again at 63, 64 or 65, do I lose that benefit?

Yes. After you remarry, you can’t collect a benefit based on a living former spouse’s record unless the new marriage ends.

THE BOTTOM LINE Even if your ex has remarried, you may qualify for a Social Security spousal or survivor benefit based on his or her earnings.





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