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Social Sucurity

Military Authority Member
janice robinson April 13th, 2012

My husband passed away April 1 2012 .We were married 45 years but had not lived together in 20 years . Would I be entitled to his social sucurity?


Military Authority Member
Jason Van Steenwyk April 14th, 2012

Hello, Jnice, and thak you for writing!

Very sorry to hear abou the passing of your husband.
As with so many other things, the answer depends on the circumstances.

From the way you frame your question, I take it that you never formally ended your marriage, either via divorce or annoulment, until your husband died.

In that case, you should be able to qualify for the Social Security survivors benefits. According to the SSA:

If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more.

The exception: If you remarry prior to the age of 60,or prior to age 50 if you are disabled.(If you are caring for a minor child under age 16, you may also be entitled to benefits on that basis, as well.

So how much can you expect to collect?

Again from the SSA's web site:

•Widow or widower, full retirement age or older -- 100 percent of the deceased worker's benefit amount;
•Widow or widower, age 60 -- full retirement age -- 71½ to 99 percent of the deceased worker's basic amount;
•Disabled widow or widower aged 50 through 59 -- 71½ percent;
•Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 -- 75 percent.
•A child under age 18 (19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or disabled -- 75 percent.
•Dependent parent(s) of the deceased worker, age 62 or older: ◦One surviving parent -- 82½ percent.
◦Two surviving parents -- 75 percent to each parent.

Note that widowed spouses can begin collecting at age 60 - this is a different than the earliest age their spouse can begin collecting Social Security benefits.

If you begin to collect early, you will receive a lower benefit than you would if you had waited unyil full retirment age.Benefits are reduced sligthly (a fraction of a percentage point) lower than they would be for every month prior to your early retirement.

Note that there's a cap on what you're allowed to earn while collecting a survivor benefit.

It may be, too, that you are better off collecting your own earned benefit rather than the spousal benefit. Be sure consider all scenarios before making a decision.

Military Authority Member
Janice April 15th, 2012

Hello Jason,Thanks for your reply.My husband was in the navy for 20 years and no we never did end our marriage. Social Security is telling me we had to be living together for me to be entitled to his social security. I find that very hard to believe. MaybeI need a lawyer?

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