Spousal Social Security Benefit Question

weed30March 19, 2012

I keep trying to read the SSA website, and other articles, but I still don't know the answer.


My dad applied for social security at age 65, for him that was full retirement age. He gets close to $1700/month. He is now 83.

He was married to my mom for more than 10 years, and then they divorced. She died in 2003. Her social security benefit was around $400. I am not positive if she was at full retirement age when she filed, in case that matters.

So my dad is considered a widower according to the SSA, and can apply for spousal benefits, but since my mom's benefit was so much lower, will he even get anything? According to the SSA, he is eligible for survivors benefits and soc security benefits.

I was going to help him apply, but the list of info you need is quite lengthy, esp. since they were divorced. I have to find their marriage certificate and their divorce papers among many other things...which will not be easy. So I thought I would try and take a shortcut and ask here, in case anyone knows :)

Thanks in advance!

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He can get one OR the other, but not both. Since his own benefit is larger, it isn't worth applying for the spousal.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Jkom is right. You cannot collect two types of checks (benefits) at once. He could "potentially" receive widower's checks only if they were more than his own retirement checks , since they were legally married for over 10 years. . Sorry if this is bad news.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:08AM
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Thanks both for your answers. I figured that would be the case, but the language on the SSA site is not always particularly clear, to say the least.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:11AM
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(Hi Weedy. Long time, no see.)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 6:59PM
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Heya "ded", hope you're doing well!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:08PM
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