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Will remarrying reduce my Social Security benefits?

If we're talking about your retirement benefit, the answer is no. Social Security has no marriage penalty. The monthly retirement payments that you and your prospective spouse get are calculated separately, based on your individual earnings histories, and they don't change when you tie the knot, whether it's your first, second or fifth time.

But remarriage can affect other kinds of Social Security benefits:

  • If you are divorced and collecting ex-spousal benefits on the work record of a former husband or wife, you lose them if you get hitched again, except in very limited circumstances.
  • If your spouse or ex is not alive, depending on your age, you could lose eligibility for survivor benefits you might otherwise collect on the record of the deceased.

You'll find more information in the "Survivors" and "Divorce" sections of AARP's Social Security Resource Center.

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Marriage or remarriage also can affect Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a benefit for older or disabled people with low incomes that is administered but not financed by Social Security. For example:

  • The recipient's income and assets partially determine the SSI payment. A spouse's financial resources could change that benefit calculation.
  • Marriage to another SSI recipient will change your benefit amount from an individual rate to a couple's rate.

Keep in mind

You can't collect both a retirement benefit and a spousal benefit in full. If you qualify for two Social Security benefits, you get a payment equal to the higher one.

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