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I am a single divorced woman. Can I collect Social Security from a dead ex spouse?
Your eligibility for a survivor benefit from your ex-spouse depends on several things:
1. You and your ex must have been married for at least 10 years
2. You must be currently unmarried
3. You must be at least 60 years old (or at least 50 if you are disabled)
If you meet all of the above criteria, and provided you are not already collecting a personal SS retirement benefit which is more than your survivor benefit would be, then you are eligible for a survivor benefit from your ex-spouse. You also have the option to collect only a survivor benefit from your ex and allow your personal SS retirement benefit grow (up to age 70), which you should consider if you personally earned SS retirement benefit will eventually be more than your ex-spouse survivor benefit.
If you are eligible and claim a survivor benefit before you have reached your full retirement age (your “FRA”, which is somewhere between 66 and 67 depending on the year you were born), your survivor benefit will be actuarially reduced according to the number of months prior to you FRA that you claim. Also, if you haven’t yet reached your FRA, any Social Security benefit you claim, including your survivor benefit if eligible, will be subject to Social Security’s “earnings test.” The earnings test limits how much can be earned from working before reaching FRA (the earnings test goes away at FRA).
If you have additional questions about your eligibility for survivor benefits from your ex-spouse, please email us at [email protected], or call us at 1.888.750.2622.
National Social Security Advisor
The AMAC Foundation