For married couples, the Social Security spousal benefit and survivor benefit can help those who qualify better manage their retirement. Specific benefits depend on the survivor’s age and the type of benefit she is eligible to receive. If you remarry, however, some of the rules change, which ultimately can cost you money. Moreover, divorcees are treated differently than widows and widowers.
After A Divorce
If you were married for at least a decade and subsequently divorced, you’re entitled to claim Social Security benefits based on the work history of your ex-spouse -- even if he subsequently remarries – as long as you remain single. If you marry someone else, however, you’re no longer eligible to claim those benefits, though you can take spouse’s benefits based on your new husband’s work history instead. This might mean that your benefits are effectively reduced if your new spouse is eligible for fewer benefits than your ex-spouse
Widows and Widowers
Social Security regulations treat widows and widowers differently. Spouses who remarry before 60 – or 50 if disabled – can’t receive survivor benefits from their ex-spouses until and unless the new marriage ends. Those who get married again after age 60 may continue to receive those survivor benefits. You also can apply for Social Security survivor benefits with your new spouse once you remarry. If those benefits exceed those on your current widow or widower’s benefit, you’ll receive whichever amount is greater.