Can my new wife draw on her ex-spouse’s Social Security in any circumstance after remarrying? Specifically, during the one-year waiting period for my wife to collect on my record, can she collect on an ex-spouse’s record? Or can my wife draw on an ex-spouse’s record if I (the current husband) have not yet started taking benefits, regardless of the one-year waiting period?
Remarriage commonly impacts and complicates Social Security payments for newly wedded partners.
Engaged couples should review and discuss current and ex-spouse Social Security rules before getting remarried.
Learning before leaping can help with the timing of your remarriage and set household money expectations for your Social Security benefit. Planning before, not after, will help reduce anxiety and the unintended consequences of an otherwise blissful journey.
You may not like the answer here. So let’s review the rules surrounding remarriage and Social Security benefits.
A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan that maximizes your Social Security benefits. Find a financial advisor today.
Social Security Benefits After Divorce and Remaining Unmarried
Following a divorce, if the marriage lasted 10 years or longer, an ex-spouse can collect a Social Security benefit on his or her former spouse’s record. That’s true even if the former spouse remarries.
There are a few considerations to review, however, before receiving a divorced spouse payment. Here’s what to know about when a former partner can collect on his or her ex-spouse’s record:
- The collecting ex-spouse must be age 62 or older and unmarried.
- The former spouse is entitled to receive retirement or disability Social Security benefits.
- The value of the collecting ex-spouse’s benefit (based on his or her work record) should be less than the value of the former ex-spouse’s benefit.
- If the former spouse qualifies but has not applied for retirement benefits, the collecting spouse can receive benefits after two consecutive years of divorce.
Benefits After Divorce and Remarrying
Once you remarry after divorce, the spousal benefits you collect on your ex-spouse’s record immediately cease. To give some insight into why this happens, here’s how the Social Security Administration (SSA) views this particular life transition.
- The former household consists of the former and collecting spouse.
- When you remarry, the connection to the former household benefits terminates.
- Once you remarry, the household transfers from the former household to the current household.
- The new household consists of the two newlyweds and their benefit records.
- The new spousal arrangement will file and collect using the records of their current household.
Here’s the Logic Behind These Rules
The Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs and the Social Security Act of 1935 provide baseline protections for the well-being of individuals and families in the best interest of the public good. For example, where is the essential economic and well-being safeguard for surviving children when the breadwinner unexpectedly dies? Where is the safeguard for a surviving spouse? What about a divorced spouse?
If you think of divorced ex-spouse benefits with this context in mind, coupled with the benefit rules, the rules gain more clarity.
When an ex-spouse divorces and has yet to remarry, the SSA considers the disruption of the economic and care well-being standard to which they were accustomed. Thus, considerations are made for the benefits during their unmarried period.
Once the ex-spouse remarries, the individual has transferred his or her temporary disruption from their former household to their new household. Thus, the public program of SSA has fulfilled its duty and ceased funding ex-spouse support. Any future retirement Social Security benefit is the responsibility of the individuals in the current household.
The short answer here is no. Generally, a new wife cannot collect on her ex-spouse’s record while you wait to withdraw your own benefits.
But the great news is that you have found a new love. The greater hope is that you simultaneously find a new love and higher levels of Social Security understanding for optimal bliss.
Preston Cherry, CFP® is a financial planning columnist for SmartAsset and answers reader questions on personal finance topics. Got a question you’d like answered? Email AskAnAdvisor@smartasset.com and your question may be answered in a future column.
Please note that Preston is not a participant in the SmartAdvisor Match platform.
Tips for Planning for Social Security
- If you have questions specific to your Social Security strategy, a financial advisor can help. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- When it comes to Social Security, you can’t afford any missteps. In determining when to claim benefits, it’s helpful to use a Social Security calculator to estimate the amount to which you’re entitled.
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