Could This Lady File For Benefits On The Records Of Either Of Her Former Husbands?

Jun 25 2020 - 4:52pm

A lady, age 64 was married for more than 10 years, divorced, then remarried to her new spouse for more than 10 years. Her new spouse later died. Her first husband is 65 and has never claimed. Would she be able to claim benefits off of the record of her first spouse or her deceased spouse which ever is the highest? Thank you.


My answer assumes that the first husband is living. Yes, this lady could file for either widow's benefits on her second husband's record, and/or divorced spousal benefits on her first husband's account. However, she could never file for divorced spousal benefits on the first husband's account while he's living without also being deemed to be filing for her own benefits. In other words, whenever she files for either her own Social Security retirement benefits or divorced spousal benefits, she'll be deemed to be filing for both benefits. She would then be paid essentially just the higher of those 2 benefit rates, and her benefit rate would be reduced for age if she starts drawing prior to her full retirement age (FRA).

This lady could file just for widow's benefits, though, without being deemed to be filing for her own benefits or divorced spousal benefits. Her best option would probably be to initially apply for either a) widow's benefits or b) her own benefits and divorced spousal benefits, and then switch to the higher benefit when it reaches it's highest possible rate. Our software ( could help her sort out her options and determine her optimal filing strategy.

Best, Jerry