Can I Collect Survivor Benefits On My Ex's Record Even If His Benefit Is Smaller Than Mine?

Mar 3 2018 - 2:26pm

Can I collect survivor's divorced benefit off my ex husband even if his benefit is smaller than mine at age 66. I plan on working and would like my benefit to grow and switch to mine at age 70. I would like to work until I am 75 ....we will see.
If the above is not possible, would it be to my advantage to collect at full retirement age 66.4 ..$1654 per month or wait till I am 70 and collect $2287 per month. I most likely will break even when I am 79....I am in great health, will live long:)
Doreen

Hi Doreen,

You couldn't get benefits on your ex-spouse's record if you had already filed for your own benefits, but since you apparently haven't done so the answer is likely yes. Of course you would need to meet the requirements to qualify for surviving divorced spousal benefits, such as having been married for at least 10 years to your deceased ex who was insured for Social Security benefits. For a full list of the requirements involved, refer to this section of Social Security's handbook: https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0403.html.

You wouldn't necessarily need to wait until full retirement age (FRA) to start drawing survivor benefits, but your earnings may preclude you from drawing benefits until then if you earn too much (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). In fact, if the benefit rate on your ex's record is lower than your own, it would likely be advantageous for you to start drawing the survivor benefits as soon as possible and then switch to your own record at age 70.

Our maximization software can help you determine exactly when would be the best time to file for each type of benefit.

Best, Jerry