Is There Anything I Can Do?

Jan 10 2018 - 7:32am

About a year ago, I went to a Social Security office to ask about the possibility of collecting from my ex husband's social security, since he had passed away. I was 5 days short of the rule that you had to be married at least ten years to reveive benefits from your ex-husband. I was married on January 24th, 1986 and divorced on January 19th 1996! However, to my delight, I was told that when I turn 66, I would be entitled to my dead ex-husband's social security because he had passed away and was not remarried so no one else would have claimed it. They told me to come in this month to start the process of collecting in April when I turn 66. However, I just talked to them today and they told me this was NOT true and even though I was 5 days short of being married for ten years to my ex-husband, I would not be able to collect his social security benefit. I was furious! Is there anything I can do to dispute this? Your advice would be much appreciated.

Hi,

Probably not, but it's a shame that the first person you spoke with misled you about the Social Security law on this subject. You could file an application anyway in order to get a formal determination from Social Security, but if your marriage lasted even 1 day less than 10 years you almost certainly wouldn't be eligible for benefits on your ex's record.

I'm sure that you know the correct dates of your marriage and divorce, but you may want to check on your state's law with regard to when your divorce was legally final. Some states do, or have in the past, defer the date that divorces are legally final for up to 6 months after the date of the decree. To see if this may have a bearing in your case, refer to this section of Social Security's operations manual: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200305165.

Best, Jerry