Would I Be Able To Collect Benefits On My Ex-Spouse's Record?

Feb 15 2018 - 9:24am

My ex spouse recently passed away at age 66. I am 61.5. The marriage lasted 20 years. He re married. I did not remarry. I work full time. Would I be able to collect any benefits?

Hi,

That depends on your level of earnings. It sounds like you could qualify for surviving divorced spouse's benefits, but Social Security would withhold $1 of your benefits for each $2 that you earn in excess of $17,040 this year. So, you may or may not be able to receive benefits now.

Your best overall strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced surviving divorced spouse's benefits now 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 retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced surviving divorced spouse's benefits at your full retirement age (FRA). However, if your ex-spouse received reduced retirement benefits prior to his death then your optimal date to file for to surviving divorced spouse's benefits would be at some point earlier than FRA.

Generally, 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. The maximization software available on this website can sort this all out for you and help you determine your best overall filing strategy.

Best, Jerry