How Long Must You Have Been Married To Qualify For Benefits On A Deceased Spouse's Record?

Feb 22 2017 - 6:30am

IS THERE A NUMBER OF YEARS THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE BEEN MARRIED IN ORDER TO COLLECT ON A DECEASED SPOUSE'S SOCIAL SECURITY? I WAS TOLD YOU HAD TO BE MARRIED 10 YEARS. I HAVE NEVER REMARRIED AND I AM NOW 60 YRS OLD. I WANT TO STILL WORK, BUT COLLECT ON MY DECEASED HUSBAND'S SOCIAL SECURITY. (SURVIVING WIDOW'S BENEFITS)

Hi,

If the marriage ended in death, you only need to have been married for 9 months in order to potentially qualify for widow's benefits. If the marriage ended in divorce, you need to have been married for at least 10 years in order to potentially qualify for surviving divorced spouse's benefits.

Your best filing strategy is probably one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits now or as soon as your earnings will permit payment of at least some benefits, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit payment of at least some benefits, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at full retirement age.

You may want to seriously consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to be sure that you choose the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry