Will a widow lose her Social Security if she remarries?

Q: Will a widow lose her Social Security if she remarries? 

A:  Even a straightforward question such as this can have different answers depending on the Social Security benefit involved.  With this in mind, I strongly suggest that you contact Social Security and ask about your specific situation before getting remarried.  Social Security survivors benefits are the same for widows and widowers. 

Remarriage neither increases nor decreases your own retirement amount because it is based on your work record, not whether or not you are married.  A remarried widow or widower might become eligible for SSA benefits as a spouse at some point but marriage does not change her or his own retirement amount. 

Social Security survivor benefits are payable for reasons other than age.   A surviving parent of any age with a child under age 16 or disabled in care might receive benefits as could a disabled widower or widow at least age 50.  Age based survivors benefits are possible starting at age 60 including to a surviving divorced spouse. 

While these have different requirements, the general rule concerning remarriage is that you cannot get widow’s or widower’s benefits if you remarry before age 60.  Remarriage after age 60 (or age 50 if you are disabled) will not prevent you from getting survivor benefits based on your deceased spouse’s work record.

What happens if a new marriage ends your existing SSA survivors benefits and then the new marriage ends, either by death or divorce?  This opens the possibility of restarting the previous benefits or perhaps becoming eligible for benefits based on the newer husband or wife’s Social Security record.  

Receiving SSA benefits?  After the bouquet is tossed, one of your responsibilities is to report the marriage to Social Security.  

If needed, that is a good time to update your name on SSA records.

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