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What happens to my Social Security survivor benefits if I remarry?

It depends on how old you are when you remarry.

Widows and widowers can collect survivor benefits when they reach age 60 (50 if they are disabled), or at any age if they are caring for a child of the late spouse who is under 16 or disabled. A divorced ex-spouse who is at least 60 (50 if disabled) can also collect survivor benefits if he or she was married to the deceased for at least 10 years. 

Remarrying after turning 60 (50 if disabled) has no effect on survivor benefits. But if you wed before reaching that age, you lose eligibility for survivor benefits on the prior marriage. (If you were already getting them, they will stop.) You regain eligibility for survivor benefits based on the prior marriage only If the subsequent marriage ends through death, divorce or annulment. 

Keep in mind

  • You can collect 100 percent of your late spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) Social Security payment if you claim survivor benefits after reaching your full retirement age, but in most cases the amount is reduced if you apply earlier.
  • If you were widowed twice, you may be entitled to survivor benefits based on the work records of both late spouses, but you can only collect one such payment at a time. The Social Security Administration can supply information on which record would provide the larger benefit. 

Published October 10, 2018

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