Extra Earnings Don't Always Translate to Extra Benefits Q: I know my Social Security benefits will be based on my last five years of earnings before I retire. But here is the problem. I am 60 years old and have just been laid off by my employer. I have few if any prospects of getting another job. I plan …Read more. The So-Called 'New' Social Security Rules Are Actually the Old Rules There is just so darn much misinformation out there about new Social Security rules. These rules have to do with the eventual elimination of the maximizing strategies known as "file and restrict" and "file and suspend." Every single day, I get …Read more. How to Deal With the Social Security Earnings Penalties I've gotten more than a few emails recently from Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 and still working and who are trapped in the web of Social Security's convoluted earnings penalty rules and the way they are administered. Those …Read more. Long Gone Husband May Mean Extra Social Security to Some I gave a couple women very nice Christmas presents over the recent holiday season. And I'm not talking about the lingerie I got my wife or the coffee maker I got my daughter. I'm talking about the gift of extra Social Security benefits I got for two …Read more.more articles
Widow Due Benefits After Divorcing Hubby No. 2
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.
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.
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