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What Does Remarrying Do to Your Social Security Benefits?


If you are divorced and considering remarriage, you may be concerned about how this will affect your Social Security status. In most cases, remarriage will not affect your Social Security benefits. If you receive retirement or disability benefits based on your own work history, getting divorced and remarried will not change anything. However, if you receive benefits based on a former spouse’s work history, getting remarried will typically cut them off in favor of your new spouse’s work history. In addition, if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, remarriage can change your assets and lead to a change in payments. Here’s what you need to know.

A financial advisor can help you create a retirement plan and maximize your benefits.

Remarriage and Retirement or Disability Benefits

Most Social Security recipients collect either retirement benefits or disability benefits. These are monthly payments that you receive based on your personal work history. As you work and pay FICA taxes, you accrue Social Security credits. Then, when you reach a qualifying criteria, you can begin collecting benefits based on those credits. For retirement benefits, you must be old enough to receive benefits. For disability benefits, you must have a qualifying disability or blindness.

In most, if not all, cases, neither retirement nor disability benefits are affected by your marital status. You will receive these benefits in full if you are divorced and remarry. You will also receive these benefits in full if you marry for the first time and your spouse has been divorced.

Divorced Spouse Benefits

If you are divorced from an eligible Social Security recipient, you may be able to receive benefits based on their work history. While not a comprehensive list, to receive divorced spouse benefits you must generally:

  • Be older than 62
  • Have been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years
  • Currently be unmarried

If you meet the program’s criteria, you can receive payments worth a portion of your ex-spouse’s benefits. In general, you can expect to receive roughly 50% of what your spouse would get at your age (I.e. if you collect benefits at 67, you can expect to receive half of the value of their benefits). This has no impact on the benefits that your ex-spouse receives, nor is it affected by their marital status. If you are entitled to Social Security based on your own work history, you will receive the greater of either your benefits or your ex-spouse’s. 

Remarriage will terminate your eligibility for divorce benefits. If you remarry, you are no longer eligible for your ex-spouse’s benefits. If your later marriage has ended, you can once again collect the benefits of an ex-spouse based on the SSA’s rules.

Survivor Benefits

A woman researching survivor benefits.

If you predecease your family, your spouse or dependents are typically eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits. This is an amount of your retirement or disability benefits that they can claim based on several factors, including your credits and their current status. 

The exact amount the a claimant can receive ranges widely. In general, a surviving spouse can typically claim the same benefits that their spouse would have received. That is, a surviving spouse who claims benefits at age 67 will generally receive 100% of the decedent’s benefits.

Here, remarriage can get both tricky and specific. Your eligibility for survivor’s benefits will depend chiefly on the age at which you remarry:

  • Remarriage before age 50. No survivor’s benefits for a predeceased spouse while you are married to the later spouse. You could, however, be eligible for survivor’s benefits for a predeceased spouse if you divorce the later spouse.
  • Remarriage between ages 50 and 59. No survivor’s benefits for a predeceased spouse.
  • Remarriage after age 60. Potential eligibility for survivor’s benefits for a predeceased spouse.

Supplemental Security Income

The SSI program provides additional income to low-income households based on age and disability. The goal is to supplement additional Social Security benefits as necessary.

Remarriage does not specifically impact your eligibility for SSI payments. However, this program is means-tested, meaning that it is based on your household income and assets. Remarriage will likely introduce more money into your house, which might affect your eligibility for SSI payments.

Bottom Line

A woman researching how remarriage will affect her retirement or disability benefits under Social Security.

Getting remarried will not affect your accrued retirement or disability benefits under Social Security. However, if you receive divorce of survivor’s benefits, there is a good chance that remarriage will affect those payments.

Social Security Tips

  • Delaying Social Security claims and reducing withdrawals from traditional IRAs are two popular ways Social Security recipients can lower their tax bills. Depending on your situation, here’s what you can do.
  • A financial advisor can help you build a comprehensive retirement plan. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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