Can I Get Full Ex-Spouse Survivor Benefits If I Take Retirement Or Spousal Benefits First?

Jun 28 2018 - 3:36pm

Can I receive full ex-spouse survivor benefits if I took either of these options first
1. Take ex-spousal benefits ( half his record) at 66 leaving my record to grow to age 70. I would be receiving about $200 less than on my own record for those four years to get about $300 more for life at 70. If I am eligible for full ex-survivor benefits I would be receiving about $800 more than my age 66 benefit and about $500 more than my age 70 benefit, depending on the death of my ex-husband
2.Take full benefit from my own record at 66 . Take ex-spouse survivor benefit if eligible for about $800 increase.
We were married for 38 years, divorced 2 years Sept. 6, 2018. I turn 66 Sept. 2 2018 and he will be 71 by then and has already taken his benefit. He has developed a serious health condition which has severely limited his life expectancy.
Any other suggestion welcome.


Yes, it sounds like you could potentially qualify for an unreduced survivor benefit if your ex dies regardless of which of the above options you choose. Taking either spousal benefits or retirement benefits on your own record would have no effect on your future survivor rate. If you're drawing either retirement or spousal benefits and your ex dies, you would likely then become eligible for his full benefit rate assuming that it's higher than your own retirement rate. You couldn't get both benefit rates, though, just the higher of the two.

About the only things that would cause your survivor rate to be reduced would be if a) you started drawing the survivor benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA), or b) if your ex-husband received reduced retirement benefits prior to his FRA.

Before filing, you should strongly consider using our maximization software to compare your options and determine your best strategy.

Best, Jerry