Can a Widow From a Gay Couple Married Abroad in 1992 Collect a Widows Benefit?

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Jun 17 2016 - 6:30am

I have not seen this issue discussed, either at PBS.org or with the Social Security website - my spouse was receiving disability benefits (since 1992) before she died (at age 52), we were married for 10 years, and could not file as "Married" on our income taxes because it was not allowed at the time. Am I entitled to any widow's benefits when I reach the age of 60? Or since it was a non-recognized same-sex marriage (performed in Canada) am I just considered "single" in the eyes of the Social Security Administration (since I was considered "Single" in the eyes of the IRS and our state)? Thanks.

Hi, I believe that you are fully eligible to collect a widow benefit on your deceased spouse's work record when you turn 60. If you take it at 60 it will be reduced. It will max out at your full retirement age. If you can collect Social Security on covered work in the U.S., please run our software to understand whether you should take your reduced widows benefit at 60 and your own retirement benefit at 70 or your reduced retirement benefit at 62 and your widows benefit at full retirement age. Which is best will depend on your relative earnings histories.

best, Larry