When Is The Earliest Time That I Can Apply For Divorced Widow's Benefits?

Apr 16 2018 - 7:08am

Hello, my husband and I were married in 2002, divorced in 2014, and he recently and suddenly passed away in 2017, and before he turned age 50. I will be 57 in 2018. I have read I am eligible for "divorced widow" benefits. When is the earliest time I can apply for these benefits, and what is the amount I can expect to receive? I am currently working full-time, my retirement benefit is projected to be $2778 at Full Retirement Age of 67 but I am seriously considering quitting my job this year, 2018, and if I work at all, will likely be earning maybe $25,000 a year. Thank you for your help in this very surreal and challenging situation.

Hi,

Unless you're disabled, the earliest that you could qualify for surviving divorced spousal benefits is at age 60. If you file then, you will receive a reduced rate of 71.5% of your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA) as opposed to the 100% of his PIA that you'd receive if you waited until your full retirement age.

It sounds like your best strategy would likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced surviving divorced spousal benefits at age 60 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced surviving divorced spousal benefits at your full retirement age.

Normally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher record when it reaches it's highest potential rate. Our maximization software can help you sort all of this out and determine your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry