Remarriage Rules for Widows and Widowers

purple spotted flowers by basheertomeThe Social Security Administration has a special way to treat former spouses differently from widows and widowers with regard to benefits when the person in question remarries.  This only affects ex-Spouses while the other partner from the former marriage is still living. When the former spouse dies, the surviving spouse is treated as a widow or widower.


Remarriage Rules for Widows and Widowers

(For brevity I’m going to refer only to widows, but everything applies as well to widowers.) If a widow is under age 60 and remarries (and stays married), she is no longer eligible for her Survivor Benefit based upon her late husband’s record.  After age 60, the widow can remarry and retain access to Survivor Benefits.  This rule applies the same way for a “widow” who was divorced from the decedent, as long as she was married to the ex-spouse for at least 9 months.


Remarriage Rules for Ex-Spouses

If a couple was married for at least 10 years and has been divorced for at least 2 years, she can be eligible for Spousal Benefits based upon her former husband’s record – as long as she remains unmarried.  (As with other examples, the roles could be reversed.)  Her husband must be eligible for benefits (doesn’t have to be taking them) and she must be at least age 62 for early benefits.  The same rules apply as if they were still married, except that he doesn’t have to apply for her to be eligible for the Spousal Benefit.


However – if she marries at any time while he is still alive, she will be ineligible for the spousal benefit while married.  If there is a subsequent second divorce or the second husband dies, her eligibility is restored.  If/When the first husband (or any earlier husband) dies, she becomes eligible for a Survivor’s Benefit as a Widow (see above for remarriage rules for Widows).  She can choose the earlier husband (if she was married more than once) with the highest available benefit for her Spousal and/or Survivor benefit – as long as she met the eligibility (length of marriage) to that former spouse.


Photo by basheertome


IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication (or in any attachment).

About the author

Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

Jim Blankenship is the founder and principal of Blankenship Financial Planning, Ltd., a financial planning firm providing hourly, as-needed financial planning and advice. A financial services professional for over 25 years, Jim is a CFP professional and has earned the Enrolled Agent designation, a designation that qualifies him as enrolled to practice before the IRS. Jim is also a NAPFA-registered financial advisor, which designates him as a Fee-Only Financial Advisor.

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154 Comments

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  • I’m 54 been disabled since 2003 when I turn 50 I started drawing my widow’s benefit if I get married at 54 will I lose my widow’s benefit and my medicare insurance

  • I am 58.. and my husband died when i was 55… I was married to him for 41 years.. I am thinking about remarrying with in year.. When I am 60 and remarried to my 2nd husband, will i still be entitled to my 1st husbands (who’s passed )pension at the age of 60? and if so is there a percentage i will be receiving?

    • If you’re talking about a pension, you’ll need to contact the pension administrator to find out what your rights are with regard to that. If you’re referring to Social Security, as long as you remarry after you’re age 60, you should be eligible to receive survivor benefits based on your first husband’s record. If you remarry before age 60, you will lose that eligibility.

  • I am on widows debility and I’m wanting to change my last name to Williams the man that was a father to me. Well that change anything. Thank you

  • my husband was married for 22 yearsand obviously got divorce he is a veteran , his concern is if he dies does the ex wife still get part of the pension?

  • Hi Sir
    My question is that if a widow get remarries with husband’s Brother before the age of 60 then
    She will get any pention profit or not.

  • hi i have a question if a veteran id divorced and remarried if he dies does the first wife still get something?

  • I am 57 I divorced after 35 years ex spouse passes away, recently I remarried would like to know what benefits am I entitled to of his and when. If any. Thank you

  • My question is my husband passed so now i recieve death benifits if i get remarried will my part of the benifits go to my 13 year old?

    • It’s unlikely that your 13 year old’s benefit would change when you get remarried. This is to assume that you and the child are the only beneficiaries receiving benefits on your late husband’s record. If there were more beneficiaries (additional children, for example) then your current benefits might be reduced by the family maximum; when you remarry your benefit amount would be split among the other beneficiaries.

      Assuming that there are no others receiving benefits on your late husband’s record, family maximum limit is unlikely to apply.

      The bottom line is that upon remarriage, your benefit as a parent would cease, and your child’s benefit would continue unchanged.

  • hello Jim, im 62 years old and widowed since 2006,not yet receiving state pension from my late husband, if i remarry,should i still get his state pension when i reach my pension age?
    thank you

  • Hello,

    I lost my husband 10 years ago. I’m receiving monthly allowance from his private pension which I will get for life. I recently started dating. Will I loose the pension if I move in with him. I am 45yrs old and have no intention of getting married till I’m 60. Can I keep my private pension and live with my partner.

    Thank you.

  • Hi
    I was married for 20 years, and have been divorced for 20 years, i never remarried. Will i still be able to claim my late ex husbands pension, even though we have been divorced for 20 years

    • You should be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits based on your late ex-husband’s record, assuming there are benefits to be paid (if he was eligible). If you’re asking about a pension, you’ll have to check with the pension agency that pays the pension.

  • DEAR SIR
    I am receiving disabled widower benefits, and i just completed 60 years old. I AM LOOKING TO MARRIED SOMEONE THAT LEAVES OUT OF THE COUNTRY. If we married we proablly will be leaving here ande their. In case i die she will be able to receive survival benefits from my behalf?
    * the time of married she is not a citizen, i will apply for the papers after we married.

    thanks

  • If an ex-spouse collects on her ex husbands widows benefits because they were marred for 34 years…& divorced 15 years ago….then she dies, would his current wife be able to collect on his benefits then? even though they were married a short time…Thank you!

    • If by “current wife” you mean the one he was married to when he died, as long as they were married for at least a year she should be eligible for widow’s benefits regardless of whether the ex-spouse is collecting or not. The two widows’ benefits are available without regard to one another’s status.

  • I am receiving monthly disability benefits. I was married to my husband 15 years and he passed away at 64. I remarried at age 54. I am now 56. Do I qualify for Survivors Benefits since I am disable and remarried?

  • My husband passed almost 3 years ago i met someone and were not going to get married but I want to change my name to his will that affect my spouse benefits that I get from him I’m 62

  • I was married from 2009-2013 and then got divorced. A year later my ex died of a heart attack. My friend recently told me I can get widow’s benefits from SS. Is this true? I am not remarried and don’t plan to.

  • I was married and had a set of twins who are now 15 with my ex husband who is 100% disabled, my children and I both received ss benefits off of him until I remarried then mine was stopped and the children’s carried on..My question is i am now divorced and carried his last name back, am I now with carrying his last name back entitled to his benefits as I was before and how would I go about the process if so?? Thanks!

  • My late husband passed away 5 yrs ago, I receive his private works pension, if I remarry will I lose this , I am 59 yrs of age.

  • My first husband died at age 58. I remarried and lost my survivor benefits. My second husband and I have decided to get a divorce in order to be able to receive my first husband’s survivor benefits. I am currently 56 and we plan to remarry after I turn 60. I was married for over 21 years to my first husband and I had 3 children and he worked hard provide for us. Can social security deem this illegal if we choose to get a divorce.

    • No, it should be perfectly legal the way you’ve described it.

      Your divorce must last until the end of the following calendar year after the divorce. Otherwise when you remarry (assuming you remarry after the divorce) it will be considered an interruption of the previous marriage and the original marriage date (before age 60) will be in force again. Please confirm this with SSA before you get remarried – this is my understanding the rules, and I’d hate for you to rely on this alone only to find out some other aspect is making it not apply to you.

  • I’m a widowed and collecting my husband’s death benefits and since I’m 63 I can remarry and keep my widows benifits. Can I now app for for my own social security benefits off my work and collect both my ss and my widows benefits

  • I am a widow(er) with a deceased spouse of 30 + years of SB. If I remarry will my new spouse be eligible for SB?

  • I married in 1981, husband murdered in 1986. I remarried at age 55, am I entitled to his SS benefits I’m 61 years old now…and disabled.

    • From the article above:

      “If a widow is under age 60 and remarries (and stays married), she is no longer eligible for her Survivor Benefit based upon her late husband’s record. After age 60, the widow can remarry and retain access to Survivor Benefits.”

  • If I became a widow after 5 years of marriage he was murdeted in 1986. I remarried in 2010 at the age of 55 am I entitled to his SS benefits?

  • I have been on disability since i was 50 . My husband is deceased now and I also receive survivor / widow benefits . If i remarry will I loose my husbands survivor benefits /widow benefits…from social security

    • From the article above:

      “If a widow is under age 60 and remarries (and stays married), she is no longer eligible for her Survivor Benefit based upon her late husband’s record. After age 60, the widow can remarry and retain access to Survivor Benefits.”

  • I was married for 24 years. My husband died in 2003. I the got married in 2011. I started collecting my SSI at 62. Can I collect on my widow SSI. Or can I collect off my current husband. He is not collecting because he is only of age yet.

    • How old were you when you remarried? If you were under age 60 at that time, then you are not eligible for widow’s benefits based on you late husband’s record. If you were 60 or older when you remarried, then you may be eligible for widow’s benefits based on your late husband’s record.

  • I’m 34 years old , I’m a widow , I get my late husbands pension each month , is it true if I remarry I will loose this ?

  • I became a widow @ 63. I retired at 62 and was collecting my SS benefits. When my husband passed away I got 2/3’s of his SS and my whole social . when I turn 66 I am eligible for his entire social security benefit. If I remarry before I turn 66 will I be able to still collect what I am currently getting? If i get married after I turn 66 will I still be eligible for my deceased husband full social..it is very confusing..Thank you

  • my son was married for 15 years they had 2 children and my daughter-in-law passed away my grandchildren receive their mothers benfits now my son wants to remarry will my grandchildren lose their benifits

  • My x wife receives a widow pension from her estranged deceased husband since 1991, even though we were married for only 2 year, we have two children from the marriage, she refused to change her marriage name or inform the authorities in the UK that she remarried, she gave all children her deceased husband surname, is this considered fraudulent to keep on receiving widow’s pension even though she is still under sixty , and she never lost the benefits during the short period marriage due to the fact that she is living in Australia.

  • My sisters husband passed away in 2007, and had been married for over 10 years.She receives his retirement pension. She is now unable to work and can’t afford medical insurance. She has since remarried but her now husband doesn’t get insurance on his job. Can she apply for disability?

  • My husband died 2002 and I had my survivor benefits just kept in his daughters name.
    At 19 both girls lost his social security benefits. My question is I am 59 yrs old and recently
    divorced,
    can I receive his survivor benefits when I turn 60 yrs old

  • Hi my husband passed away at the age of 46 we were married for 30 years I got remarried three years ago do I still my late husband pension benefits . I am now 50 years old. He has a teamster pension

  • Hi I got married on 2010 was married for 3 years and my husband died I died in mexico.. Can I get married again I never got proof of his death but for sure he died what do I need to get married again

  • I am a 71 year old widow…. my late husband died in 2012 after 17 years of marriage, whereupon I started receiving his social security payment, rather than mine (which were tiny). Now I want to remarry……. and need to know if I can keep my social security benefits as they are now paid

  • Hi I am 36 year old widow. My husband passed away in Aug of 2015. I have one son with him and my other son was his stepchild. I remarried in December of 2016 when do I need to report this and will I lose my widow benefits?

  • Hi Jim, my sister is a 47 yr old widow with 2 minor children. She receives Social Security survivor benefits for herself as well as for the 2 children. I’d like to know if she would lose the survivor benefit that corresponds to her if she remarries. Her deceased husband was a US veteran.

    • I don’t think so, but she will want to confirm this with SSA to be certain. The benefit she is receiving is different from the “aged spouse” survivor benefit that can be eliminated upon remarriage. Have her check with SSA to be certain about it.

  • My husband of 13 years died. If I was collecting a widow ss, then married again and lost it, then got divorced after 3 years, can those benefits be re-instated ?

  • Hello Jim
    I was widowed last December 2016 suddenly and unexpected. I get a pension in my own right, plus state pension and also a pension from my late husband’s occupation. would I lose my late husbands state pension part and the occupational pension should I live with someone or remarry?

  • I am 65 and took early retirement at 62 due to taking time off work to care form my elderly ex-husband. He is now deceased. I took his SS as he, nor I, had ever remarried. We were married for 17 years and divorced for 24. I get my limited SS plus his larger amount.
    I am considering remarrying. Will I loose my current full SS if I remarry?
    Will I continue to get my full SS and will my new husband, age 75, continue to get his full SS?

  • My husband worked for the State of WV for over 10 years when he died in 2009. I was 32 years-old. That time period is honestly such a blur to me, but I received notice that I would be getting a monthly pension check because I was his beneficiary. I have no idea if this is SS or 401k or what. I was too out of it onpay attention or care. Anyway, fast forward seven years. I am getting ready to turn 40, and I’ve fallen in love again. However, I cannot afford to lose those monthly pension payments. Do I fall under this category of having to wait until I’m 60 to remarry?

    • It’s not likely that the check you are receiving is Social Security – I would guess it’s from the state or perhaps a union. You should check with them (should get a year-end statement of payments to indicate where they’re coming from) to get an understanding of the impact of remarriage on your benefits.

  • I am a disabled Veteran’s widow, aged 65 and drawing social security. I have medical coverage and receive meds by mail due to my deceased husband’s service; however, I do NOT receive a pension of any kind. I am contemplating marriage to a 68 year-old man. If we marry, will I lose my Medical benefits and my free medications?

  • HI! MY WIFE AND i WAS MARRIED FOR 31 YEARS AND SHE DIED IN 2013, ATE AGE 48, I WILL BE 60 IN MAY. WE HAVE A HANDICAPPED DAUGHTER, SHE BORN IN 1987 IN NEW JERSEY WITH CELEBRAL PALSY AND SHE IS LEGALLY BLIND. i STARTED IN 2014 WITH A CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE TERMINAL STAGE, I AM SINCE THEM IN HEMODIALYSES AND IN THE WAITING LIST FOR A TRANSPLANT. i APLYED FOR MY DAUGHTER SURVIVAL BENEFITS FROM MY WIFE, BECAUSE SHE BECAME HANDICAPPED BEFORE THE AGE OF 23(SS RULE), SHE REALLY BORN WITH THE CELEBRAL PALSY AND I AM MORE THAN A YEAR TO RECEIVE THIS BENEFITS. aLSO I HEARD THAT BECAUSE A HAVE A CRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN TERMINAL STAGE. I DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL I AM 60 YEARS OLD TO APPLIED FOR MY WIFES SURVIVAL BENEFITS, I CAB DO NOW, I THIS TRUE? CAN MY DAUGHTER AND I RECEIVE FROM THE SAME SURVIVAL BENEFITS? WILL BE HALF FOR ONE AND HALF FOR ANOTHER, OR IS A DIFERENT AMOUNT? I WISH I RECEIVE AN ANSWER THANKS

  • I am a 68 yr old widow drawing Social Security benefits based on my late husband’s salary since his was higher than mine. I have mer a nice man who is retired and draws a lower amount of SS benefits rhan mine. But combined we have a nice life. We would like to get married. Will we each keep drawing our own checks?

  • IF YOU ARE WIDOW OF US ARMY AND NO CHILD…. AND COHABITTING WITH ANOTHER MAN NOW…CAN YOU STILL ABLE TO RECIEVE A MONTHLY PENSION …..?

    If somebody report me ,Do I lost my pension or forfeited?

  • IF YOU ARE WIDOW OF US ARMY AND NO CHILD…. AND COHABITTING WITH ANOTHER MAN NOW…CAN YOU STILL ABLE TO RECIEVE A MONTHLY PENSION …..?

  • Hi. I am legaly blind, I was married 11 years, I am 52 years old, widow. My husband die in 2012 , can I get widow pension, or disable pension. I am American and he was American to.

  • Hi . I am legaly blind 52 years old I was married 11 years my husband die in 2012 do I can get widow pension or social security benefits. I am American and my husband to.

  • I am a widow I draw a disabled widows pension from my husband Social Security and SSI I am thinking of remarrying I’m 60 years old and will this affect my pension and my medical Insurance

  • My husband passed away he was in the service and i remarried and im trying to get his didability insurance threw ss but im divorced now im a widow can i still draw it

  • My husband passed away he was in the service and i remarried and im trying to get his didability insurance threw ss but im divorced now im a widow can i still draw it

  • I am a widow single and have two children in school one in college one 16 freshman in high school . My husband also served as a marine and as of today I get nothing how can that be ok

  • I’m a widow 66 I draw my ss check and widow benefits I would like to remarry but afraid they may cut my ss check I think they won’t widow benefits but need an answer on my regular check as can’t afford to lose it thank you for your helpy husband died 2011

  • My late husband passed away in 1992 we had 2 children, we were all receiving benefits till I remarried & they were grown, but I’ve been divorced 2 times since his death, I was wondering if I’d still be able to receive widowed disability from him?

    • If you’re not currently married you should be eligible for widow’s benefits. If you are currently married and the marriage occurred before you reached age 60, you are not eligible. If the remarriage occurred after age 60, you are eligible.

  • My late husband passed away in 1992 we had 2 children, we were all receiving benefits till I remarried & they were grown, but I’ve been divorced 2 times since his death, I was wondering if I’d still be able to receive widowed disability from him?

  • My husband were married 30 years & raised 3 children. He died 12 years ago when I was age 47. I remarried but divorced 2 years later. Am I still eligible to draw my widows benefits at age 60?

  • My husband of 38 yrs retired from state of De and eventually passed away. I receive his pension and medical insurance from the state as the surviving widow. If I remarried, would I lose my benefits?

  • Hello Jim. i am a widower of my late U.S air force veterans. i ask if i remarry next year Do i lost my pension? He died 2012 January.

    Hope to hear you soon..

    Thanks and God Bless..

  • My boyfriend is 54 and his wife died in 2006. Their son is 14 years old. My boyfriend tells me that if we get married, he will lose his son’s survivor benefits. I say that he is wrong, and he would still get the benefit. Who is right?

  • My husband died in nineteen he would have been 63 today if he was still alive I never remarried and I’m 53 can I collect his Social Security benefits

  • I’m widowed and in my 70’s if I marry a man in his 70’s that is also windowed will our SS change are can I keep drawing from my deceased husband?

  • I was married to my husband for 44 years when he passed away. I was 62 when he died and I started drawing his SS. If I marry again, will my benefits be the same or will the amount I receive change?

  • My husband is deceased ,he was receiving a pension from a county job. I am now receivind his pension. I am 60 yrs old, if I re married would I lose this.benefit. Do i still qualify for survivors benefits from his social security, in the state of N.M.?

    • If your husband was eligible for a Social Security benefit you may be eligible for a widow’s benefit. If you’re already 60 years of age you can remarry and that will not impact your eligibility for the Social Security widow’s benefit.

      I don’t have any idea how the county pension would work in the case of your remarriage.

  • I am on widows disability. Iam age 59. I would like to know if I lose my disability check if I get married again. Thank u for a response .

    • I only know that you would not be eligible for Social Security widow’s benefits if you remarry before age 60. You must be on another type of widow’s benefits because SS benefits are not available until you reach age 60.

  • Hello, my Aunt is a widow in her late 40’s she has two minor children …she receives ssi for all 3 of them. If she remarries will she lose her benefits? And the kids? Will they lose theirs too?

    • I believe she will continue to receive the benefit until the last child is 16 years of age. The children definitely will continue to receive the benefit until they reach age 18 or 19 if still a high school student.

      She should check with SSA about whether or not her survivor benefit would continue to be paid if she remarries.

  • I receive a disability check and receive widows benefits from ex, deceased husband. I receive only half of his social security because he was married at the time of his death. Shouldn’t I get it all? She’s still working and not drawing it yet.

  • Hello Jim, quick question about 401K here: my ex-husband left his 401K to his parents as beneficiaries (we’ve been divorced for 5 years and were married for 10). I’ve been remarried for two years. Our DD said that I should get my half of the coverture fraction of the 401K if he dies. Should his beneficiaries get the 401K or should I? Thanks much.

    • I believe ERISA law requires that the spouse must sign off on any changes to beneficiaries. If you signed off on this change at some point in the past then I think you’re out of luck.

      It’s all conjecture on my part and can’t be relied upon to resolve the situation, an attorney will need to work this out for you.

      jb

  • I have a Lady Friend who is getting remarried and has been receiving her Husband that is deceased 401k benefits will she lose this?

  • Jan, that’s a question for the insurance company. If I had to guess though, I’d say that he probably would lose that benefit upon remarriage, but I don’t have any facts to back that up.

    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

    jb

  • Hello Jim, If I marry a widower will he lose the health insurance he received from his deceased wife’s insurance? He is over the age of 60.

  • I’m a widow that is disabled, I receive my deceased husbands widow SS and I get SS disability. My question is I want to re marry and my fiancé is also a widower but age 57 will he lose or I lose our deceased spouses benefits if we marry now?

  • Marilyn –

    Since you’re receiving SS checks based upon your late husband’s record I can assume that you’re better than age 60. So a remarriage at this point will not impact your receipt of the Survivor Benefit.

    Hope this helps.

    jb

  • Hello Jim — My question is: I am a widow currently receiving my late husband’s S.S. benefit checks. If I remarry, will I lose these benefits? Also, will I be able to receive any benefits based on my previous employment income? His check was the larger, which is why I chose those benefits. Thanks – hope to hear from you soon. Marilyn

  • Hello Bertha –

    If you were married for at least 10 years you should be eligible for Survivor Benefits upon his death if you’re at least age 60, or Spousal Benefits (if they’re more than your own) as early as age 62.

    jb

  • my ex huband and i have been divorced 21yrs he married a second time and was married 5yrs. can i get surviver benefits when he dies

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