Social Security benefits can play a significant role in providing financial security during retirement or in times of need. For those who have been married and divorced, understanding the rules surrounding Social Security benefits related to an ex-spouse’s passing is important. Here, we explore the key considerations when it comes to whether or not you can receive your ex-husband’s Social Security benefits if he passes away.

  1. Divorced Spouse’s Survivor Benefit: If your ex-husband, who you were married to for at least 10 years, passes away, you may be eligible for what is known as a “divorced spouse’s survivor benefit.” To qualify for this benefit, you must meet the following criteria:
  • The marriage lasted for at least 10 years.
  • You are at least 60 years old (or 50 years old if you are disabled).
  • You are not currently married. If you remarry before the age of 60, you generally lose eligibility for the survivor benefit.
  1. Amount of the Survivor Benefit: The survivor benefit you can receive is based on your ex-husband’s work record and the age at which you choose to claim the benefit. If you file for the survivor benefit at your full retirement age, you’ll receive 100% of what your ex-spouse was entitled to receive at his full retirement age. If you claim the benefit earlier (as early as age 60), the amount will be reduced. Conversely, if you delay claiming beyond your full retirement age, the benefit may be increased.
  2. Survivor Benefit vs. Your Own Benefit: It’s important to note that you can receive either your own Social Security retirement benefit or a divorced spouse’s survivor benefit, whichever is higher. You cannot collect both simultaneously. The survivor benefit is particularly beneficial if your ex-spouse had a higher primary insurance amount (PIA) than you do.
  3. Remarriage After Age 60: If you remarry after the age of 60, it does not affect your eligibility for a divorced spouse’s survivor benefit. You can continue to receive this benefit even if you remarry. However, if you remarry before the age of 60, you will generally lose the survivor benefit based on your ex-husband’s record.
  4. Dependent Children’s Benefits: If you have dependent children with your ex-husband, they may also be eligible for survivor benefits based on his work record if he passes away. In general, unmarried children under the age of 18 (or up to age 19 if they are full-time students in elementary or secondary school) can receive these benefits. Disabled adult children may also be eligible.
  5. Divorce After Age 60: If your divorce from your ex-husband occurs after you turn 60, it does not impact your eligibility for a survivor benefit should he pass away. Even if you were married for less than 10 years at the time of the divorce, but your marriage lasted for at least 10 years in total, you can still qualify for this benefit.
  6. Survivor Benefit Application: To claim a divorced spouse’s survivor benefit, you will need to provide documentation of the divorce and your marriage. You can apply for this benefit by contacting the Social Security Administration. It’s recommended that you do so as soon as possible after your ex-husband’s passing to ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.

In conclusion, if your ex-husband passes away, you may be eligible for a divorced spouse’s survivor benefit, provided you meet the necessary criteria. This benefit can be a valuable source of financial support during your retirement years, especially if your ex-spouse had a higher Social Security benefit than you did. Understanding the rules and requirements for this benefit is essential to ensure you can access the financial assistance you may be entitled to receive. If you are in this situation, it’s advisable to consult with the Social Security Administration or a financial advisor to navigate the complexities of Social Security survivor benefits effectively.