If My Ex-Husband Dies Will I Be Able To Collect Social Security On His Record?

Apr 25 2018 - 10:27am

Hi Larry,

I was married to my ex-husband for 22 years. I remarried, but that marriage ended after just 7 years. I started collecting SSDI at the age of 62-63, but now since I’m 65 years old I’m receiving regular social security. My ex-husband who I was married to for 22 years and is 63 years old is in ill health. He is in the process of applying for SSDI, but if denied he will start collecting his regular social security sometime this year.

My Question: If he passes away in the next 5 years and I remain unmarried, will I be able to collect social security based on his benefit? Presently his social security benefit will be at least $500 more than my benefit. In the event of his death can I receive his full SS benefit? Morbid subject but I need to ask.

Thank you for your time,


Hi Jamie,

If your ex-husband dies it sounds like you could qualify for surviving divorced spousal benefits on his record. Your unreduced survivor rate could be as high as your ex's full retirement age rate (PIA), but only if he doesn't receive reduced retirement benefits prior to his death. If your ex does receive reduced retirement benefits, your maximum possible survivor rate would be limited to the higher of a) his reduced benefit rate or b) 82.5% of his PIA.

And just to clarify, you could only be paid the higher of the survivor rate described above or your own benefit rate, not both.

Best, Jerry