When Can I Get Benefits On My Deceased Ex-Husband's Record?

Apr 12 2017 - 8:00am

Hello, My ex-husband and I were married for 25 years when we divorced 5 years ago. He was on total disability due to illness and recently just passed away. I am not re-married, am 55 years old and work full time. What are my options with his disability benefits? Can I apply for them now or at a later date? Thank you for any guidance. Kathie

Hi Kathie,

Unless you become disabled, you can't get surviving divorced spousal benefits until you are at least age 60, and there is an earnings test that could limit the benefits you could receive until you reach full retirement age (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html).

Your best strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced surviving divorced spousal benefits at age 60 or as soon after that as your earnings will permit payment of benefits, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits at age 62 or as soon after that as your earnings will permit payment of benefits, then file for unreduced surviving divorced spousal benefits at your full retirement age.

The maximization software available on this website can help you determine which of these strategies is best, as well as when you should apply for each type of benefit.

Best, Jerry