Is A Divorced Widow Required To Apply For Her Ex-Husband's Social Security?

Is a divorced widow required to apply for her X husband's social security. I have a client whose apartment rent is based on income and it would dramatically increase should she HAVE TO accept his benefit rate? This might force her to move...


No one is actually required by Social Security to file for benefits, but there can be consequences for not filing. For example, if a person is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) they must file for any Social Security benefits for which they are eligible or else their SSI payments will stop.

Also, in some cases a person can be deemed to be filing for more than one type of benefit if they apply for certain benefits. An example of this would be a person who files for spousal benefits prior to full retirement age, in which case they would also be deemed to have filed for retirement benefits on their own record if they qualify.

Deeming does not apply to survivor benefits, though. So, unless your client receives SSI benefits I can't think of any scenario in which Social Security would require her to file for survivor benefits. However, if she's receiving some type of rental or housing assistance then you should probably check with the agency that administers that program to see what their rules require.

Best, Jerry