What happens to my Social Security if I remarry?

If you are receiving Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record, your benefits may be affected if you remarry. However, the impact depends on your age and other factors.

How marriage affects widow’s/widower’s benefits

If you remarry before age 60 (50 if disabled), you will not be eligible for Social Security widow’s or widower’s benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record. However, your remarriage will not affect any widow’s or widower’s benefits you receive for caring for the deceased’s children.

If you remarry at age 60 or older (50 or older if disabled), you can continue to receive widow’s or widower’s benefits. Your new spouse’s income may affect the amount you receive, but you will remain eligible for benefits.

Impact on divorced spouse benefits

If you remarry before age 60 (50 if disabled), you cannot collect benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record unless your later marriage ends. However, if you remarry after age 60, you can continue receiving divorced spouse benefits and your new spouse’s income will not affect your benefit amount.

What if my ex-spouse remarries?

If your ex-spouse remarries, it will not affect the Social Security benefits you receive based on their earnings record. You can continue to claim benefits even if your ex remarries, because your eligibility is based on your marital relationship that lasted at least 10 years.

Strategies if remarriage affects benefits

If your benefits are impacted by remarriage, here are some strategies to maximize your Social Security income:

  • Delay claiming benefits – If you wait until full retirement age, your benefit amount will be higher.
  • Claim spousal benefits – You may qualify for spousal benefits based on your new spouse’s earnings record.
  • Coordinate benefits – You and your new spouse can coordinate when to claim benefits to maximize your total household income.
  • Claim survivor benefits – If eligible for widow’s/widower’s benefits later, you can switch to those higher benefits.

How to notify Social Security if you remarry

If you remarry, you need to report your new marital status to the Social Security Administration. You can do this by:

  • Calling SSA at 1-800-772-1213
  • Going to your local SSA office
  • Logging into your my Social Security account online

Be sure to update your records with your new name and provide your marriage certificate as proof of the change in status. This will help SSA properly adjust your benefits if needed.

Scenario examples of remarriage impact

Here are some examples to illustrate how remarriage can affect Social Security benefits:

Example 1

  • Sally, age 58, collects $800/month in widow’s benefits from her late husband Jack’s earnings record
  • She remarries at age 60 to Tom
  • Sally can continue receiving her $800 widow’s benefit untouched
  • When Sally reaches full retirement age, her benefit may increase due to delayed credits

Example 2

  • Mark, age 55, collects $1,000/month in divorced spouse benefits from his ex-wife Jane’s earnings history
  • He remarries at age 57 to Lisa
  • Mark’s divorced spouse benefits are suspended upon remarriage before age 60
  • If Mark later divorces Lisa, his benefits can resume at age 60

Example 3

  • Jennifer is 62 and applies for divorced spouse benefits based on her ex-husband’s record
  • Before benefits start, she remarries at age 63
  • Jennifer is not eligible for divorced spouse benefits because she remarried before filing
  • She must now wait until full retirement age to claim benefits on her own record

As these examples show, the timing of remarriage as well as your age and benefit type can significantly impact Social Security income. Consulting with a financial advisor or SSA can help avoid surprises.

Things to consider before remarriage

Before getting remarried, here are some important things to consider related to your Social Security benefits:

  • Age: Your age at the time of remarriage affects your eligibility for certain Social Security benefits
  • Current benefits: Understand how your existing widow’s, widower’s, or divorced spouse benefits could be reduced or eliminated
  • Earnings records: Compare your earnings history to your new spouse’s to maximize household benefits
  • Marital history: Make sure SSA has your correct marital history to qualify for benefits
  • Family situation: Consider how your benefits provide income for dependents
  • Life expectancy: Weigh survivor benefits if your new spouse has a shorter life expectancy

Consulting a financial planner or Social Security expert can help you make the best choices before getting remarried later in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my new spouse’s income affect my Social Security benefit?

It depends. For divorced spouse benefits, your new spouse’s income does not impact your benefit amount. However, if receiving widow’s or widower’s benefits, your benefit may be reduced based on your new spouse’s income if you claim benefits before full retirement age.

Can I receive both divorced spouse benefits and widow’s benefits?

No, you can only collect one type of Social Security spouse benefit at a time. Typically the widow’s benefit will be the larger amount. You can switch from divorced spouse to widow’s benefits if you qualify for both.

Do I have to pay back benefits if I remarry before age 60?

No, you will not have to repay Social Security benefits already received when you remarry, even if it leads to a suspension of future benefits. However, you will need to repay any benefits paid after the month of remarriage.

Can I receive two Social Security checks as a spouse from each ex?

No, you can only receive spousal/divorced spouse benefits from one earnings record, whichever one entitles you to the highest amount. You cannot get multiple spousal benefits from different ex-spouses at the same time.

If I remarry, can I switch between spousal benefits?

Yes, if you qualify for multiple spousal benefits, you can switch between them over time. For example, you could claim divorced spouse benefits first, then switch to a new spouse’s benefits later if that amount is higher.

Conclusion

Remarrying after a divorce or death of a spouse can create complicated situations when coordinating Social Security benefits. Your age, work history, marital history, and timing of events play key roles in determining eligibility and amounts. Consulting a financial advisor or Social Security specialist can help maximize your lifetime income. Be sure to notify SSA promptly when you remarry so that benefits are adjusted accordingly based on program rules.

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