Will I Be Eligible For Widow's Benefits At Age 60?

Jul 28 2020 - 10:16am

My first husband died 3 days before our first anniversary. I remarried 7 years later & divorced about 14 months later. I am not currently married & will be 60 next month & would like to apply for widows benefits if I’m truly eligible. Please help!


Yes, it sounds like you'd potentially be eligible for widow's benefits on your first husband's record. You only need to have been married for at least 9 months leading up to your spouse's death to meet the duration of marriage requirement for widow's benefits, and since your subsequent marriage has ended it won't hinder your ability to qualify for widow's benefits on the account of your first husband (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0401.html). However, if you file for widow's benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA) your rate will be reduced for age, and your benefits could be subject to full or partial withholding if you work and earn too much.

Assuming that you're insured for Social Security benefits based on your own earnings, it sounds like your best strategy would likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's 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 widow's benefits at full retirement age (FRA).

Normally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher benefit when it reaches it's highest potential rate. Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) could help sort all of this out for you so that you can determine the best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry