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Termination of Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefits

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


409. Termination of Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefits

409.1 When do your widow(er)'s benefits end?

Your widow(er)'s insurance benefits end when:

  1. You die;

  2. You become entitled to a retirement insurance benefit that is equal to or larger than the worker's primary insurance amount;

  3. For benefits payable prior to January 1991, you qualified only under the conditions explained in §402 (B) and monthly benefits were awarded on the same earnings record to another individual who either:

    1. Validly married the deceased worker; or

    2. Has the same status under State law with respect to the taking of intestate personal property as you would as the widow(er); or

  4. Your disability ends. In this case, your last month of entitlement is the second month after the month in which your disability ended. However, your entitlement continues if you reach retirement age on or before the last day of the third month after your disability ends.

You are not entitled to widow(er)'s benefits for the month in which any one of the above events occurs, except as explained in (D).

409.2 Do benefits end or are they reduced upon remarriage?

Your benefits will not terminate or be reduced upon remarriage if:

  1. You are a widow(er) or surviving divorced wife or husband age 60 or over; or

  2. You are a disabled widow(er) or a disabled surviving divorced wife or husband age 50 or over.

See §406 for the effects of remarriage on benefits.

Last Revised: Feb. 2, 2007

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There are 10 Comments

I am 64 and have not claimed my deceased husband's ss benefits. I am approaching 65 and need to know a couple of things.

1. Can I claim his benefits even though I am still working?

2. If I am able to claim his benefits now, how does that affect my benefits that I have earned when I retire?

You can apply for reduced survivor benefits as early as age 60. Your monthly benefit increases with each month you wait for benefits to begin, so you may want to delay your survivor benefits. Your Full Retirement Age (FRA) is 66.

Further, if you're still working while receiving survivor benefits, you may encounter the "earnings limit".
If you are under FRA when you start getting your Social Security payments, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2012 that limit was $14,640.

If a person receives widow's or widower's benefits, and will qualify for a retirement benefit that's more than their survivors benefit, he or she can switch to their own retirement benefit as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The rules are complicated and vary depending on the situation, so talk to a Social Security representative about the options available.

disabled, collecting widow benefits age 61 considering remarrying widower 62 collecting survivor benefits. would we lose any benefits at this point. Since widow disabled how would this affect partner with ss?

on disability myself but receive a widow's pay separately since my husband drew more. just remarried will I lose this amt? I am 57.

I'm not sure of your situation. It sounds like you qualify for disability benefits on your work record, but receive a higher benefit based on your former husband's record.

I have not seen documentation for this specific case, but I suspect your benefit may be reduced to what you would draw on your record.

Generally, you cannot get widow’s or widower’s benefits if you remarry before age 60.

I am 63.5 years old and not drawing social security. My x-husband to whom I was married for 15 years is deceased. I remarried at the age of 42 and the marriage lasted 5 years. My x-husband's social security was $2000.00/month. Can I draw a widow's pension or his social security if I decide to start drawing social security now? His social security was much more than mine would be. I was living with him at the time of his death. I am still working at the present time but my salary is only $250.00/week.

Yes, it sounds like you would qualify for survivor benefits on his record. The keys in your situation are :

  • You remarried but this second marriage ended in divorce
  • Your age is above 60
  • Your husband's benefit is larger than yours

It sounds like you make about $12,500 per year from wages. There is an "earnings limit" whereby the SSA will deduct $1 in benefits for every $2 earn above the annual limit. For 2013, that limit is $15,120, so it looks like you will not face that limit.

My father is receiving a Special Veterans Benefits from Social Security Administration, 400 East 6th St., Handford, CA 93230. He was residing here in the Philippines. He died last January 29, 2006 at the age of 84. My mother then was aged 81. Unfortunately, my mother died last October 22, 2011, approximately 70 months after my father died. My mother wasn't able to claim for the widower's/survivor's benefit. Can we, the children can still claim the unpaid benefits due to our mother. If so, what are the requirements and how can we go about it.
Hoping and praying for you reply.
Thank you and more power!

I would contact the SSA directly for this, but I am doubtful you can receive benefits.

First, the SSA states, "You should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time the worker died."

Second, there survivor claims may be paid for up to six months retroactively. However, it seems like this six-month deadline has passed :

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