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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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