What Happens To My Survivor Benefits If I Remarry Before Age 60?

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Jan 22 2018 - 4:28pm

My husband passed away suddenly approx 5 yrs ago. I now have an inherited IRA-invested. He was only 52. We were married 31 years. I am now 55. I have questions. What happens to my survivor/widower benefits if I remarry before age 60? I believe I loose them but not sure. What happens if I get married then divorced? Do I regain my first husband's back? What happens if I stay married, but my second husband dies? I have worked full time my whole life-how do my retirement benefits work with my first husbands retirement benefits/survivor/widower benefits, my own benefits, and, if I ever get married again, his benefits? If my second husband was divorced, does the first wife get his retirement?

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Unless you're already eligible for disabled widow's benefits at the time you remarry, if you remarry before age 60 you wouldn't be able to receive widow's benefits on your first husband's record for as long as your remarriage continues. You could, however, potentially qualify for widow's benefits on your first husband's record if your remarriage ends in death or divorce.

If you don't remarry, your best strategy would likely be one of the following:
1) File for widow's benefits at age 60 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at your full retirement age.

If you marry someone who was previously married for more than 10 years, his prior wife could be eligible for divorced spousal benefits on his record but that wouldn't reduce your new husband's benefit rate nor the amount of your benefits should you qualify for spousal or widow's benefits on his record.

You may want to consider using the maximization software available on this website in order to explore your options and determine your best strategy.

Best, Jerry