Get new articles by email:

Oblivious Investor offers a free newsletter providing tips on low-maintenance investing, tax planning, and retirement planning.

Join over 21,000 email subscribers:

Articles are published Monday and Friday. You can unsubscribe at any time.

How Does a Second Marriage Affect Social Security Benefits?

A reader writes in, asking:

“I am currently receiving Social Security from my first spouse. If I get remarried, will I still be able to collect benefits from that spouse?”

The answer depends on whether this former spouse is “former” because he/she is deceased or because you got divorced.

Effect of Remarriage on Surviving Spouse Benefits

One of the requirements to receive widow(er) benefits is that you must be unmarried. There are, however, three cases in which you can be married (i.e., to a new spouse) and still receive a widow(er) benefit on your deceased spouse’s work record:

  1. You remarried after you became 60 years old.
  2. You are now age 60 or older and you meet both of the following conditions:
    • You remarried after attaining age 50 but before attaining age 60.
    • At the time of the remarriage, you were entitled to widow’s or widower’s benefits as a disabled widow or widower.
  3. You are now at least age 50 but not yet age 60 and you meet both of the following conditions:
    • You remarried after attaining age 50.
    • You met the disability requirements in paragraph (c) of this Code section at the time of your remarriage.

Effect of Remarriage on Divorced Spouse Benefits

With regard to divorced spouse benefits, such benefits will end if you marry someone else (i.e., somebody other than the former spouse on whose work record you are currently collecting benefits). There is one exception, however: If your new spouse is currently receiving Social Security benefits as a wife, husband, widow, widower, father, mother, parent, or disabled child (i.e., a benefit other than a retirement benefit), you can continue receiving divorced spouse benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record.

That may sound confusing, so let’s run through an example.

Allan and Anna are married. Because Anna has devoted her life to raising their children and volunteering for assorted organizations, she doesn’t have enough work credits to qualify for her own retirement benefit.

Burt and Beth are married. Similar to Anna, Burt has been a full-time parent/volunteer, and he doesn’t have enough work credits to qualify for a retirement benefit.

Both couples get divorced, and Anna and Burt eventually qualify for (and begin receiving) benefits based on their ex-spouse’s work records.

Anna and Burt meet and fall in love. If it were not for the exception described above, if they were to get married, neither one would qualify for any Social Security benefits. That is, neither one has a retirement benefit, and therefore neither one can receive any spousal benefits on the other one’s work record.

Because of the exception described above, however, both Anna and Burt can continue receiving spousal benefits on their ex-spouses’ work records.

Want to Learn More about Social Security? Pick Up a Copy of My Book:

Social Security cover Social Security Made Simple: Social Security Retirement Benefits and Related Planning Topics Explained in 100 Pages or Less
Topics Covered in the Book:
  • How retirement benefits, spousal benefits, and widow(er) benefits are calculated,
  • How to decide the best age to claim your benefit,
  • How Social Security benefits are taxed and how that affects tax planning,
  • Click here to see the full list.

A Testimonial from a Reader on Amazon:

"An excellent review of various facts and decision-making components associated with the Social Security benefits. The book provides a lot of very useful information within small space."
Disclaimer: By using this site, you explicitly agree to its Terms of Use and agree not to hold Simple Subjects, LLC or any of its members liable in any way for damages arising from decisions you make based on the information made available on this site. I am not a registered investment advisor or representative thereof, and the information on this site is for informational and entertainment purposes only and does not constitute financial advice.

Copyright 2021 Simple Subjects, LLC - All rights reserved. To be clear: This means that, aside from small quotations, the material on this site may not be republished elsewhere without my express permission. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

My new Social Security calculator (beta): Open Social Security