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When is a surviving divorced parent entitled to father's or mother's insurance benefits?

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at ssa.gov.

416. When is a surviving divorced parent entitled to father's or mother's insurance benefits?

You are entitled to father's or mother's insurance benefits, as a surviving divorced father or mother of a worker who died fully or currently insured, if you meet the following conditions:

  1. Prior to January 1, 1991, you and the worker were validly married under State law (see §402 (A)), but the marriage ended in a final divorce. After January 1, 1991, a marriage based on the requirements in §402 (B) also qualifies;

  2. You filed an application for father's or mother's insurance benefits;

    Note: No application is required if you were entitled to spouse's benefits for the month before the month the worker died.

  3. You are not married;

  4. You are not entitled to widow(er)'s insurance benefits, or to a retirement insurance benefit that is equal to or larger than the father's or mother's full benefit;

  5. You have in your care the worker's child who is entitled to child's insurance benefits and (see §§312-315 for definition of "in care"):

    1. The child is your natural or legally adopted child;

    2. The child is entitled to child's insurance benefits on the worker's earnings record; and

    3. The child is under age 16 or disabled; and

  6. You meet one of the requirements in §401 (F).

Last Revised: Feb. 4, 2008


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Good Article on Social Security Benefits for Divorced People

This is a good article which outlines Social Security benefits for divorced people. The article refers to "divorced women", but it also applies to divorced men (especially if the woman had higher earnings).

Excerpt :

The law says a divorced woman, who was married to her ex-husband for a minimum of 10 years, is due essentially the same benefits as a woman who is currently married to her husband.

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