I am 57 years old. My husband passed away last year at age 61 after retiring but before claiming any SS benefits. We were separated at the time but not divorced. We were married 35 years in which time I was a homemaker and did not earn substantial income. I am trying to understand surviving widow benefits, retirement benefits and remarriage. If I remarry before I am 60, I understand I don't qualify for any benefits on my husbands earnings. If I remarry after age 60, can I still claim benefits on my first husband's wages when I reach full retirement age? or do I lose my rights to any benefits when I remarry? I understood that the surviving widow benefit is only for widows with a very low income. Is that correct? Thank you for your time. I have tried to research this online but can't find the answer.
I'm sorry for your loss.
A remarriage that occurs after a person reaches age 60 does not preclude entitlement to widow's benefits on a previous spouse's record. However, a remarriage that occurs prior to age 60 would bar entitlement to widow's benefits for as long as the remarriage is in effect. For more information on widow's benefits, refer to Social Security's website: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou2.html.
There is no means test involved to receive widow's benefits, however, reduced widow's benefits payable prior to full retirement age are subject to possible withholding due to the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html).
You should consider running the maximization software available on this website prior to making any filing decisions. If you are insured for benefits on your own record, or if you remarry after age 60, you would have numerous potential filing options available to you. The software will sort out your options and help you determine the best time to apply for each type of benefit for which you may qualify.