Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

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Scooter57
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Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by Scooter57 »

As I understand it, a person who was married for more than ten years and did not remarry has the choice of claiming Social Security on their own record or their ex-'s record. But what if the higher earning spouse died before they were 62? Can the surviving divorced spouse who is of retirement age claim on their dead ex's record?

Also, if the divorced spouse can claim on the ex-s earning record, how can they find out what that earning record was so they can determine whether they would do better claiming on the ex-spouses record rather than their own?

I am about to file for SS at age 70. My spouse of 15 years died at age 60. I have no idea which of us earned the most given the breakdown of communications after divorce.

Any help in figuring this out would be greatly appreciated.
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CAsage
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by CAsage »

I think the usual recommendation is to make an appointment at your nearest SS office, as they are very good at sorting out the details of your situation. I would bring all the relevant records, marriage, divorce, SS number of ex.... No personal experience myself but that is what I have read.
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FiveK
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by FiveK »

Scooter57 wrote: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm Can the surviving divorced spouse who is of retirement age claim on their dead ex's record?
Yes.

See Ex-Spouse Benefits and You | Social Security Matters and links therein for more.
123
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by 123 »

You should immediately contact social security and file for benefits (they will figure out benefits on both accounts and give you options on whether you want divorced spouse benefits for months before you are age 70). Since you are over full retirement age your claim can potentially be retroactive for some months since your work, if any, has no impact on benefit withholding. Delay in filing for benefits as a divorced spouse may just be money down the drain at your age.

Edited to add:

If the deceased spouse passed away before full retirement age a calculation is used that does not reduce the calculation of the deceased Primary Insurance Amount due to an early death. Don't wait any longer.
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by JW-Retired »

Scooter57 wrote: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm I am about to file for SS at age 70. My spouse of 15 years died at age 60. I have no idea which of us earned the most given the breakdown of communications after divorce.
You have nothing to lose by filing for deceased divorced spouse benefits and continuing to defer your own benefits to age 70.
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Scooter57
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by Scooter57 »

Thanks!
Colorado Guy
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by Colorado Guy »

FiveK wrote: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:01 pm
Scooter57 wrote: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:45 pm Can the surviving divorced spouse who is of retirement age claim on their dead ex's record?
Yes.

See Ex-Spouse Benefits and You | Social Security Matters and links therein for more.
I know this is an older thread, but something I only recently became aware of, and perhaps of interest to some in the same situation. I have been currently planning on delaying my SS until 70 for all the typical reasons. So, while doing some retirement reading, I came across this topic, and was genuinely surprised. A call to SS confirmed this.

Per discussion with the SS, the marriage needed to last at least 10 years, and I have not remarried. I had to submit certified copies of both the marriage and divorce certificates. While the ex-spouse SS amounts are substantially lower than my own, it is worth using the ex-spousal SS in the interim to let my SS payments grow.

During this Virus time, the SS is providing phone appointments to complete the application. SS is to begin paying me a ex-spousal SS benefit soon, plus 6 months of back payments from the date I submitted a claim (I believe that means 6 months max or your FRA, whichever is shorter). I have passed my FRA already, so I could have actually started claiming it a few months earlier.
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BL
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by BL »

I believe there is a difference in whether you are talking about a divorced surviving spouse or a divorced spouse. The recent law changes did not affect survivors, AFAIK. FRA probably does not apply much for survivors benefits, for example.
Colorado Guy
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by Colorado Guy »

BL,

Believe you are correct that I could have applied at 62, at a reduced benefit. If I had known of divorce survivor benefits years earlier and applied then, perhaps I would have received more benefits overall, but I simply was unaware of it. Not sure what reduction in benefits that would be exactly, but SS told me that as I have reached FRA, I could get their full benefit.

Their SS benefit is not a life changer, but does reduce my necessary withdrawals until I turn 70 and receive my own SS benefits.
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BL
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Re: Can a divorced spouse claim SS on the record of an ex- who died too young to claim?

Post by BL »

Colorado Guy wrote: Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:25 pm BL,

Believe you are correct that I could have applied at 62, at a reduced benefit. If I had known of divorce survivor benefits years earlier and applied then, perhaps I would have received more benefits overall, but I simply was unaware of it. Not sure what reduction in benefits that would be exactly, but SS told me that as I have reached FRA, I could get their full benefit.

Their SS benefit is not a life changer, but does reduce my necessary withdrawals until I turn 70 and receive my own SS benefits.
Someone else reading this might benefit if not you. Actually, age 60 is the age where it is first possible to get survivor's benefits, but they are reduced before FRA. Also if working, that might reduce or eliminate just as it does with any other category of those getting SS benefits.
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