Can Widows Who Remarry Draw on the New Husband's Social Security Benefits Instead?

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Remarriage as an older widow does not eliminate your widow's benefits.
Remarriage as an older widow does not eliminate your widow's benefits. (Image: Polka Dot/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Social Security protects not only workers, but also their spouses and survivors. In fact, both widows and widowers receive equal protection. If you already qualify for widow's benefits and wish to remarry, in certain instances you can collect on your new husband's account. However, in some cases, you collect more if you qualify to continue your widow's benefit instead. Your own pensions also affect your spousal or widow's benefit.

Collecting on the Current Husband's Account

Once your remarry, if your present husband collects Social Security benefits, you can collect reduced spousal benefits based on his account at age 62 or full spousal benefits at your full retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration. Full retirement age is 67 for those born from 1943 to 1954. The full spousal benefit equals one-half of your current husband's benefit. However, if you already have widow's benefits, in some cases you can collect more by continuing them. You must choose one or the other, because you cannot collect both.

Widow's Benefit Amount

Widows who take survivor's benefits at full retirement age receive the deceased spouse's entire benefit in most cases. Taking it earlier results in a reduced benefit, although you can begin collecting at 60. Since the benefit from the current spouse cannot exceed 50 percent, many remarried widows receive more if they can keep the 100 percent widow's benefit instead.

Keeping Survivor's Benefits

Their age at remarriage determines whether widows can keep the widow's benefit. If disabled, you can remarry at age 50 and continue collecting from your deceased husband's account, according to the Social Security Administration. Inform Social Security if you change your name to avoid confusion in your record. If not disabled, you must wait until age 60 to remarry if you wish to retain your widow's benefits. If you remarry too soon, the restriction against collecting on the former spouse's account stays in effect as long as the marriage lasts.

Other Pensions

If you have a pension for work that did not fall under Social Security payroll taxes, the government usually reduces your spousal or survivor benefits because of this other pension. Examples of pensions that may reduce your spousal or survivor's pension include many state, federal and foreign pensions. The government will subtract two-thirds of your other pension from your benefit. Similarly, if you have earned a Social Security pension for your own work, the government will reduce your spousal or survivor's benefit according to the provision for windfall elimination.

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