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Widow Due Benefits After Divorcing Hubby No. 2

Comment

Q: I have a widowed friend who remarried when she was 58 years old. But that marriage lasted only 4 months and they were divorced. She's been told that because she remarried before age 60, she won't be able to collect widow's benefits on her first husband's Social Security record. This doesn't seem fair since they were married for about 30 years. Is this true?

A: No, it's not true. Your friend will be eligible for widow's benefits on her first husband's Social Security account.

Normally, if a widow remarries before age 60, she relinquishes her rights to any benefits off her first husband's record. BUT, that is true only while the second marriage is in existence. If the second marriage ends for whatever reason — death, divorce, etc. — then the woman can go back and claim Social Security widow's benefits from husband No. 1's Social Security account.

Q: I thought I read in your column that a woman has to be at least 60 years old to get widow's benefits. But a neighbor told me the eligibility age is 50. Who is right?

A: Well, we both are, sort of!

The normal eligibility age for Social Security widow's benefits is 60. But the law says that if a woman is disabled, she can collect disabled widow's benefits as early as age 50. However, the eligibility criteria are rather strict, so a woman has to have a severe mental or physical impairment to collect disabled widow's benefits.

And by the way, a woman can collect widow's benefits at any age if she is caring for young children.

For example, there are thousands of women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s receiving Social Security widow's benefits because their husband has died and they have young children at home. The technical term the Social Security Administration uses for those types of payments is "mother's benefits."

Q: What the heck is a "surviving divorced spouse?" I was looking up some information about widow's benefits on Social Security's website, and I came across that term, but couldn't figure out what it meant even within the context of information I was reading. Can you help?

A: "Surviving divorced spouse" is government bureaucratese for a divorced widow.

If a woman was married to a man for 10 years or more before getting divorced, and if her ex-husband dies, she would be potentially eligible for benefits as a surviving divorced spouse - I mean a divorced wife. That is, assuming she is at least 60 years old and has not remarried. (It doesn't matter if the ex-husband remarried.)

Q: I've heard different stories. Do I have to be married to my husband for 10 years, or nine months, to collect benefits on his Social Security record?

A: If you dump the guy — i.e., get divorced — it's 10 years. But as long as you're currently married to him, the "duration of marriage" requirement for eligibility to any kind of Social Security spousal benefit is only nine months.

To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
My best friend just died at age 24. He left behind his wife, 25yrs, and two daugthers, 2yrs, and 10months. I'm helping his wife with the finances and trying to figure out how much Social Security she and the kids will get...
Comment: #1
Posted by: luke
Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:39 AM
MY MOTHER WAS MARRIED TO MY FATHER FOR 10 1/2 YEARS AND DIVORCED HIM 52 YEARS AGO. SHE REMARRIED ABOUT 6 YEARS LATER AT ABOUT THE AGE OF 33. SHE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE DIVORCED HIM AS WELL ABOUT TEN YEARS LATER. BUT IN ANY CASE, THE SECOND HUSBAND IS DECEASED. MY FATHER JUST DIED A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO. MY MOTHER IS NOW 79 AND SHE APPLIED FOR BENEFITS FROM HIS FUND BUT HAS BEEN DENIED IN A LETTER REFERRING TO "THE LAWS OF LONG ISLAND". THEY WERE ORIGINALLY MARRIED IN THE BRONX AND SPENT ALL THEIR MARRIED YEARS IN BROOKLYN AND NASSAU COUNTY, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK.

WHAT REASONS MIGHT THERE BE FOR HER TO BE DENIED AND SHOULD SHE APPEAL?

THANKS,
WK
Comment: #2
Posted by: william karras
Sun May 23, 2010 5:53 PM
I have a friend who will start receiving her deceased husband's S.S. survivor benefits when she turns 60 in December. She has never remarried. My question: if she remarries after she begins to receive his benefits can she remarry whithout losing her husbands benefits? Thanks
Comment: #3
Posted by: Pat A.
Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:40 AM
can banks attach social security benefits for repayment of credit cards or other loans?
Comment: #4
Posted by: lee herren
Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:03 AM
I was divorced after 10 years. After several years he started calling me to see how I was, about once a month. In 2008
I got a call on his cell phone from his son saying that the X was in the hospital & had had a heart attach. I called the
hospital & was told he was on a breathing machine & couldn't speak. Long story short, they kept moving him & the
last place I had said they didn't know where he was. His phones were cut off at home & his cell & I didn't have his son's.
I asked SS if they could tell me if he was still alive in the Spring of 2010. They told me he died in the Spring of 2009.
I didn't have the paper work they needed & it took me until July to get it. At first they said it would be retro to his death. Then when I went to get it they said it will be retro to the day you showed us the paperwork. Which is correct? I am 74 yrs old & he was 65 when he died.
Comment: #5
Posted by: layne
Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:48 PM
hi i received a retirement survivors benefit notice from new york i was only married to my husband for six years
thenwe divorced will i still be able to collect on his benefit when i turn 60
Comment: #6
Posted by: cynthia
Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:15 PM
I was widowed at the age of 30. How long can I collect social secuirty benefits til? I had one son who was only 3 at the time. Do I continue to collect after he is 16? Or do benefits end? And can I collect widowers benefits when I'm 60, if I don't remarry?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Patricia Sobieszczyk
Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:41 PM
I was widowed at 45 .I remarried at 48. I now know that my deceased husband SS benefit would be much higher as he made a very good income then mine will be Mine will be about $900 per month, and his would have been $1800 per month. Would it be be wise to divorce my 2nd husband before I turn 60 so I can collect the SS of my deceased husband and remarry husband number 2 again after I turn 60 ? I am 555 now .Know this sounds horrible and calculating but my 2nd husband and I are poor as church mice and need every edge we can get for our future .And the difference in SS benefits of $1000 per month is major for us . If do this do I have to divorce before I turn 60 to collect on my deceased husband SS or can I do at any age after 60 . I hate t this whole idea but we are so concerned about retirement and need all the advantages we can get. Please advise. Thanks Julie Thompson
Comment: #8
Posted by: julie thompson
Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:13 PM
I am a widow from my first husband. I did remarry before I was 60. but I got a divorce 2 months before my 60th birthday. can draw social security off my first husband.

I also have a friend who wants to know is there a time frame after you turn 60 and start drawing your social security that you have to wait to get married. she is planning on getting married but don't want to mess up her benefits
Comment: #9
Posted by: jannell
Tue Feb 4, 2014 1:02 PM
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