Can I Receive Widow's Benefits On My Second Husband's Record?

Category: 
Nov 26 2017 - 7:03am

Dear Larry:

My second husband just passed away Nov 15, 2017. I was married to my ex husband for 13 years. SSA has been claiming for 3 years that my SECOND husband lacked 1 work credit each year thereafter that I filed for his benefits even though he worked part time to earn that one credit - and I reported those earnings on my tax return. I will be 61 on Nov 29th. My question is: Can I receive surviving widow benefits on my second husband's record? Can I receive widow benefits if they combined his earnings record with mine? And will my first husband's record be of any help at all?

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

You couldn't combine your earnings history with your husband's in order to make either of you insured for Social Security benefits. Each person's earnings history must stand on it's own. Assuming that your husband was age 62 or older at the time of his death and never received Social Security disability benefits, he would need to have at least 40 quarters of coverage in order for you to potentially qualify for widow's benefits on his record (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0401.html).

If your husband had earnings that haven't been credited to his earnings record, you should probably contact Social Security and submit or resubmit proof of those earnings (e.g. W-2 forms for wages, Schedule SE from his tax returns for self-employment earnings).

It sounds like you may qualify for benefits on your first husband's record, but you must be at least age 62 in order to be eligible for divorced spousal benefits on a living ex-spouse's record. And, your ex would also have to be at least age 62 or drawing his benefits in order for you to qualify (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.03/handbook-0311.html). Even then, you could only be eligible for divorced spousal benefits if 50% of your ex's full retirement age rate (PIA) is higher than your own PIA.

It sounds like you may have a number of different filing options available to you with regard to Social Security. You may want to strongly consider using the maximization software available on this website to sort out your options and determine your best filing strategy. To get the best results from the software, you will need to determine from Social Security how much (if anything) you could potentially receive on each of your husband's records.

Best, Jerry