Am I Able To File For Widow's Benefits On My Ex-Husband's Record?

Apr 10 2017 - 2:45pm

My ex-husband just passed away. We were married 18 years before divorcing. I remarried, and he passed away after being married only 5 days. I will be 62 this year and disabled. Am I able to file for Widows benefits under my first husband? Should I also file for early retirement? I have worked all my life up until the last two years when I became disabled.


Yes, it sounds like you would meet the requirements for surviving divorced spouse's benefits on the account of your ex-husband. However, your benefit rate will be reduced if you start drawing before full retirement age (FRA). That may not matter much if any, though, depending on whether or not your ex-husband filed for reduced retirement benefits before he died.

You could also file for reduced retirement benefits at age 62, but you would probably be better off to apply for disability benefits if your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. And, if you qualify for disability benefits, it may be most advantageous to then also apply for surviving divorced spousal benefits effective with the same month that you become entitled to disability benefits.

However, if you remove disability benefits from the picture, your best option would likely be to either:
1) File for reduced surviving divorced spousal benefits now, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits at age 62, then file for surviving divorced spousal benefits at FRA or when they reach their maximum possible rate if that's prior to FRA in your case.

All of this largely depends on the relative potential rates payable on your own record and on your ex-husband's record. The maximization software available on this website can help you sort out your options in order to determine the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry