Will I get Social Security for my ex-husband when he dies?

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Today’s question comes from Scarlett:

“I am drawing a small amount of Social Security on my ex. Remarry. When he dies, will I get his full Social Security?”

There are two factors that affect what you get

Scarlett: If you already withdraw a small amount from your ex-spouse’s Social Security, you should be eligible to receive a survival benefit upon his death. As long as the divorced spouse does not remarry before the age of 60 (50 if disabled), he is treated as a spouse and will receive the benefits of the spouse and heirs.

Determining how much a survivor will receive is calculated by considering two things. First, in most circumstances, the amount a survivor receives depends on the benefit that the deceased partner was receiving.

If the deceased does not claim a benefit until after the full retirement age (FRA), the survivors’ allowance will be higher, because the heirs’ benefit will equal the higher benefit the deceased partner received from the late claim.

If the deceased partner was greater than his or her FRA and was never claimed, the heirs’ benefit will depend on the benefit the deceased partner would have had if it had been claimed at the time of death.

If the deceased partner claims benefits or dies before reaching the FRA, a somewhat different set of rules apply. As long as the deceased partner’s benefit is greater than 82.5% of the PIA – the amount that would be received if claimed in the FRA – the same rule applies: the heirs’ benefit is based on the benefit the deceased partner was receiving or the amount they would have received if claimed at the time of death.

If the deceased partner receives less than 82.5% of his or her PIA, the basis for the heirs’ entitlement will be 82.5% of his PIA.

For example, let’s say the deceased partner had a Financial Assessment Rating of 66, but a student at age 62. The benefit in this case would drop to 75% of the PIA. Survivor allowances will be based on 82.5% of the PIA, not 75%.

Second, the actual benefit the survivor receives will depend on when he or she claims the survivors’ allowance. A survivor can claim a benefit as early as age 60, but the benefit will be reduced if claimed before the FRA.

If the survivor claims the right at age 60, the benefits will be 71.5% of the benefits that would be earned if claimed in the FRA. Each year the claim is delayed, the benefit increases until the FRA account. Note that the FRA can vary between 66 and 67, and reductions for early claim of inheritors’ allowances will be somewhat different depending on the FRA. FRA is determined by year of birth.

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About Me

I hold a PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and have taught economics at the University of Delaware for many years. Currently, I am teaching at Gallaudet University.

In 2009, she co-founded SocialSecurityChoices.com, an Internet company that advises on Social Security claim decisions. You can learn more about it by clicking here.

disclaimer: We strive to provide accurate information in relation to the topic covered. It is provided on the understanding that we do not provide legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services, and that only the Social Security Agreement (SSA) makes all final decisions about your eligibility for benefits and benefit amounts. Our advice on claim strategies does not include a comprehensive financial plan. You should consult your financial advisor regarding your individual situation.

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