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Will Social Safety Inform Me When My Ex-Husband Dies? 

Pricey Penny,

My now-ex-husband is 13-plus years older than I’m, and he earned extra money over the course of his profession than I did. We have been married for greater than 10 years, and I’ve not remarried.   

I’ve consulted a few Social Safety planners. As a result of my Social Safety advantages are higher than 50% of his advantages AND I’m more likely to outlive him by a decade or two, they suggest I declare Social Safety ASAP by myself advantages and acquire the much-higher survivor advantages when he passes.

When my ex utilized for Social Safety, he famous I used to be his spouse at the moment, and I’ve revenue taxes and a divorce decree as proof of our common-law marriage lasting greater than 10 years, so I plan to offer that info to Social Safety after I declare subsequent 12 months.  

My inquiries to you: Since he and I are estranged, will Social Safety mechanically notify me of his loss of life, so I can change to the much-higher survivor profit? If not, how can I presumably know when to make the change?

Do you agree with the 2 Social Safety planners that my greatest plan of action based mostly on our age and revenue variations is to assert my very own advantages early and survivor advantages later?


Pricey Ok.,

I wouldn’t rely on Social Safety connecting the dots right here.

Often, the funeral residence alerts Social Safety when somebody dies. If somebody is already claiming spousal advantages — that are additionally obtainable to ex-spouses in lots of instances — Social Safety will mechanically convert them to survivor advantages. The distinction could be substantial. Spousal advantages max out at 50% of the particular person’s full profit, whereas survivors can obtain as much as 100%.

Earlier than I am going additional, let’s acknowledge the elephant within the room: Planning Social Safety advantages round an ex-spouse’s loss of life can really feel a bit crass. However this isn’t about rooting to your former husband’s demise. Your purpose is to make sure you’re not leaving advantages on the desk, which is a should for anybody receiving Social Safety.

It’s completely allowable to declare an ex-spouse’s Social Safety in the event you have been married not less than 10 years, you’ve been divorced for 2, and also you haven’t remarried. The logic is that each spouses contribute economically, even when one partner doesn’t work or earns considerably much less.

That infuriates lots of people. But it surely actually shouldn’t. Once you take advantages on an ex-spouse’s report, it has zero affect on their advantages or the advantages their surviving partner receives.

Social Safety evaluations its information yearly to see if beneficiaries qualify for greater widow or widower’s advantages. However lots of people fall by way of the cracks. Final 12 months, an inner Social Safety audit discovered that about 15,000 folks claiming on their very own information certified for greater survivor advantages.

So how do you just remember to’re not one in all them? One possibility could be to arrange a Google Alert to your ex-husband’s identify. If a web based obituary have been to be printed, you’d get a notification. This isn’t foolproof, and it might not show sensible if he has an excellent widespread identify.

One other good answer is to name Social Safety each six months. So long as you have got your ex’s Social Safety quantity, the company ought to be capable of decide whether or not he’s nonetheless residing. The explanation to name twice a 12 months is that Social Safety will pay as much as six months’ of retroactive advantages, so in the event you be taught that your ex-husband just lately died, you’d be capable of get again pay for the survivor profit.

To get survivor advantages, you’ll need to fill out a brand new software by cellphone or by visiting your native workplace. There’s no technique to apply for survivor advantages on-line. Maintain onto the paperwork you have got, as you’ll want to offer proof that you simply have been married.

Finally, I’m not so involved about the way you’ll discover out about your ex-husband’s loss of life. That form of info tends to unfold rapidly on this digital age.

What worries me extra is your plan to take advantages as quickly as you flip 62. The fact is that about half of seniors depend on Social Safety for not less than 50% of their incomes. By taking your profit at 62, you’d get about 76% much less per thirty days than you’d by beginning at 70.

Statistically, sure, you’re more likely to outlive your ex-husband. However you may’t make such necessary monetary choices solely on the idea of a life expectancy desk. Your ex-husband might stay to be 95 or 100. Are you ready to stay off your personal decrease profit for twenty years or extra?

I wouldn’t make any choices on the belief that you simply’ll get the next survivor profit in some unspecified time in the future. Solely begin taking Social Safety subsequent 12 months in the event you’re OK with receiving a completely lowered profit for the foreseeable future.

Robin Hartill is an authorized monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Ship your tough cash inquiries to [email protected].

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