Can I Collect Widow's Benefits Based on My First Spouse's Record?

Jul 2 2016 - 2:15pm

Hi, I'm 63: Marriage #1 for 18.5 years, ended in death of this spouse. Marriage #2 I was age 48, married 11.5 years, divorced 2012, and I'm not remarried. Question: Do I still qualify for Widower Survivor Benefits from first marriage? What is the best strategy for me to pursue in gaining, "Get What's Yours from Social Security"? Thanks, Lori

Lori, you can file for either your widow's benefit based on your late husband's record or a divorced spousal benefit based on your ex's record as long as he's filed for his retirement or a disability benefit, or since you've been divorced for more than 2 years, you can also be eligible for a divorced spousal benefit if your ex is over 62. Because it's before your FRA, they'd both be reduced due to filing early. Assuming the widow's benefit is the larger of the two, you'd could of course file for that. Or you could file for your retirement benefit and your divorced spousal benefit now — since it's before your FRA you'd be deemed to have filed for both assuming you're eligible for the divorced spousal benefit. Then you could file for your unreduced widow's benefit at FRA. Our software can determine your maximized strategy and let you enter alternative what-if strategies for comparison. Thanks, John