If I File For Reduced Retirement Benefits, Can I Still Get Unreduced Survivor Benefits Later?

Apr 24 2017 - 8:04am

Hello Larry,
I am 62 and would like to apply for my early reduced SS retirement benefit, now, because I need the income. I was married for 35 years and divorced 5 years ago. I have never remarried. My Ex is receiving full SS retirement benefits, however, he is in failing health and the prognosis is not good. I would like to know 1) If I receive my reduced SS benefit, now, can I switch to divorced survivor's benefit at my full retirement age of 66, if he passes, and 2) would I receive the same benefit amount that he was receiving , or 3) would I receive a reduced divorced survivor's amount, because, I received my own benefit early? My Ex is receiving the maximum monthly benefit amount which is much more than I will receive at my full retirement age based on my earned income. Please advise.

Thank you,


Hi Shirley,

Yes, you could file for reduced retirement benefits now and still potentially get an unreduced surviving divorced spousal benefit if you are at least full retirement age when you become entitled to the latter benefit. Assuming his benefit rate is higher than yours, what you would actually receive in that case is your own retirement benefit, plus the difference in your benefit rates as an excess surviving divorced spousal benefit. So, the total benefit amount would add up to his full rate even if your own retirement rate is reduced.

Best, Jerry