Can I collect Social Security from my first husband?


Q. I was married 25 years when my husband passed and I was only 46, which I knew I was too young to collect Social Security from my husband since we didn’t have children, but step-children. So when I turned 60 they said I couldn’t get benefits from my late husband because I got remarried. Is that right?
— Unsure

A. We’re sorry to hear of your loss.

What you were told is correct.

“If you are currently married, you are not able to collect on your ex-spouse’s benefit,” said Jody D’Agostini, a certified financial planner with Equitable Advisors/The Falcon Financial Group in Morristown.

She said you are eligible to collect on your own record or half of your current spouse’s benefit if he is at least age 62 and you have been married for at least one year to him.

“If you start collecting now at age 62, however, you will have a permanently reduced benefit,” she said. “Your benefit continues to accrue at 7 to 8% annually until the age of 70, at which time you would collect the maximum amount.”

The only opportunity to collect on your ex-spouse would be if your current spouse dies, D’Agostini said. Then you would collect a survivor benefit on him, she said.

“Up until your full retirement age, you would receive somewhere between 71.5 to 99% of his benefit depending upon your age,” she said. “Once you reach your full retirement age, you could collect 100% of your deceased ex-spouse’s benefit.”

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This story was originally published on Nov. 29, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.