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Last Update : 07-05-2012 

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Social Security Question:

Hi Carol,
I think I understand the social security admin regulations from your other
answers but wanted to go over the spec

Social Security Answer:

Hi Carol, I think I understand the social security admin regulations from your other answers but wanted to go over the specifics with you just to make sure. Background: ------------------------------------- My sister was married to husband #1 for 14 years in which they had 2 children. They were then divorced. Not too long after their divorce, he died. He was probably in his forties at the time. She claimed Social Security survivor’s benefits for her kids while they were eligible. About 7 years ago, at age 58, my sister remarried. She has separated from husband #2 for the last 4 years or so and would like to divorce him if she could afford to do so. At my insistence, she recently went to the Social security admin offices to check her claiming options and was told that since she married before age 60 she was not eligible to receive widow’s benefits from husband #1. Based on this statement, she now plans to claim her own social security benefits in a few months when she turns 66, her full retirement age. Although she will heavily depend on social security checks for the rest of her life and would prefer to let her own claim grow as long as possible, her business is slowing down and she needs the extra income to fix up her house so she can sell it. After reading your site and the SSA site, I believe the SSA person didn't give her the full story. What I believe to be true is that if my sister is not currently married to husband #2 at the time she claims Social Security benefits in about 5 months, she has the choice of claiming her own benefits or those of her dead husband #1. I also believe that since she will be of her full retirement age, she will be eligible to collect 100% of husband #1's benefit amount. Question(s): --------------------- - Am I correct in my belief that the only thing blocking her from claiming husband #1’s widow’s benefits is she is still married to husband #2 since she re-married before age 60? - If so, if she got a divorce from husband #2 before claiming benefits, would she then be eligible for husband #1 widow’s benefits? - Would it matter if she only got the divorce finalized a little while (a few months or so) before claiming social security benefits? - If not, does it matter to the SSA that husband #1 was 2-4 years younger than my sister in terms of claiming his full benefit amount? In other words, will the fact that she will be at full retirement age but if he lived, he would not be at his full retirement age affect the amount she will be able to claim? Thanks a lot, Great site and great service to all potential retirees.

Support Replied ~ 07-05-2012 20:27:49

Dear Paul: Thank you for supplying all the facts! Good job. You are right about your sister. She will be able to collect on her first husbands' account the first month that she is not married. It does not matter how old the first husband would be since he is dead. She should have been eligible for mothers benefits when her children were growing up. Her income might have prevented her from benefits at that time, though. She should find out what her widows' amount is compared to her own benefit at age 70. The best thing to do is to take the lower benefit first and let the higher benefit grow. Hopefully, her own is greater than her widows since widows' benefits stop growing at age 66 and her own grows (and quite a bit) until she is age 70. Tell her to divorce as soon as possible because she could be missing out on benefits and she doesn't want to file for her own unless she really has to, especially if her own will grow to be more than her widows. If she has already filed on her own, she might want to withdraw if she has to.....Get back to me if you have further questions.....Thanks, carol

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DISCLAIMER - You should consult with your local Social Security Office before acting upon any information received as a response to your question on "Social Security Advisor".

"Social Security Advisor" is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services.

Information obtained from, including e-mail responses from "Social Security Advisor" should be considered as general educational information. You must never rely upon the advice given here. Your individual situation may not fit the generalizations discussed. Only your local Social Security office can evaluate your individual situation and give you advice.

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In the news: Read Carols comments in this Social Security article

Thank you so much. The amount of infomation you provided on our call went a long way in helping to resolve the issues I had with the social security rep I was working with.
Tom F. 10-15-2019

Thank you so much. You provide a fantastic service and I really appreciate all your help. The next time I have a question regarding Social Security I will go to you first and save myself a lot of time.
Carol J. 10-03-2019

Thanks for the straight forward answers. It would have save a lot of time if I knew about this site months ago.
Emily D. 09-22-2019

Great talking with you and thanks for the help. Things now seem to be going in the right direction.
Chris H. 09-22-2019

Hello, thank you so much for responding to my inquiry, I really did not expect to get an answer from you so quickly. Brought the information you sent to my social security office an the issue, i have been dealing with for months, was resolved in an hour.
Veda M. 09-02-2019

Thank you so much for the reply.
Tom C. 08-03-2019

Thank you so much for returning my email so quickly.
Laverne J. 07-24-2019

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