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!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

(Hi Weedy. Long time, no see.)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 6:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Heya "ded", hope you're doing well!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:08PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Anyone considering retiring to Panama or Ecuador?
Hi! My husband and I are middle income and with the...
Should my husband retire at age 55?
My husband will be 55 next Febuary and can retire with...
Social Security at 62 - where to deposit funds?
Gonna be 62 in 2013 and I've decided to begin my Social...
What's Pretirement mean?
Hi guys. I want to hear your thoughts about this. I...
Four wks to retirement - mixed feelings
My job totally changed a few months ago and it is no...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™