Would My Drawing Divorced Survivor Benefits Have A Negative Impact On My Ex's Widow?

Nov 10 2018 - 10:03am

Hi. I went to the SSA office to apply for my benefits having just turned 62. The woman who helped me told me that I was eligible for divorced widow benefits which had never occurred to me. This would benefit me pretty significantly but I want to make sure that it does not have a negative impact on his wife at the time of his death.

He and I were married for 13 years - 81 to 94. He was married to his second wife for less than 10 years and they had a minor child at the time of his death in 06.

I was also married and divorced in 04 to 05 but I don't think that factors in.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!


Your drawing surviving divorced spousal benefits would not adversely affect any benefits that your ex-husband's widow or children could draw, so there's no need for you to be concerned about that. Nor would your brief marriage from 2004 to 2005 affect your ability to qualify for survivor benefits on the record of your other ex-spouse.

Depending on the relative amounts of your potential survivor benefits and your own retirement benefits, your best strategy is almost certainly one of the following:
1) File for reduced survivor 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 reduced retirement benefits now or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced survivor benefits at your full retirement age (FRA). However, if your ex-spouse received reduced retirement benefits prior to his death then it may be more advantageous to file for survivor benefits before you reach 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 could sort all of this out for you and help you determine your optimal strategy.

Best, Jerry