Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration

Reinstatement of Benefits When Marriage Terminates

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


1853. Reinstatement of Benefits When Marriage Terminates

1853.1 Can your benefits start again if your marriage ends?

Your benefits may start again under the following conditions:

  1. If your marriage is voided, your benefits may begin again as of the month they ended because of the marriage, subject to the rules on administrative finality (see §2016); or

  2. If your marriage has been annulled from the beginning in accordance with State law by a court having jurisdiction over the matter, your benefits can be reinstated as of the month the decree of annulment was issued. You must file a timely application.

1853.2 Who may have benefits on a prior spouse's earnings record in the event of remarriage?

If benefit rights ended because of remarriage, the following individuals may also have benefits on the prior spouse's Social Security earnings record:

  1. Divorced spouse;

  2. Mother or father;

  3. Widow(er);

  4. Surviving divorced spouse; or

  5. Surviving divorced mother or father.

Last Revised: March, 2001

Sponsored Links

Sponsored Links

There are 12 Comments

I have been married for 32 years and my husband had a stroke 10 years ago. He has been denied disability because of lack of credit. he cannot get SSi because of my income. I am married to him now in name only. I am thinking of a divorce but do not want him living on the street. Can I rent him a room and he receive SSI

I would be careful in this regard. I see at least two potential problems with this. First, how can you be sure he would qualify for disability after the divorce? Second, and more importantly, if you divorce but continue to live with him, the SSA may view the divorce as a "sham" whose sole purpose was to receive SSI payments.

Here's an excerpt from a report along these lines :

A California couple was overpaid $3,045 in SSI payments. In this instance, the husband moved in and out of the household several times. However, he permanently returned to the household 3 years ago. His spouse, who is an SSI recipient, admitted that she should have reported to SSA when her husband moved back into the household 3 years ago, since his income and resources affect her SSI payments.

I would like to know if I am able to ever get married again in order to receive my x husbands social security benefits. I am age 48 and just would like to know before making a crucial mistake since I am already on a very limited income. I live in Illinois if that information is important.

My ex-husband is still alive. We were married for 18 years, but together only 2 years. We just divorced in February of 2011, I am collecting SSI, and just had a heart attack in March of 2011. He has not remarried, owns a painting business in CA. Is there any way I can draw his social security, even if he is still alive? I am having a hard time living on the income I receive. Please let me know. My telephone number is: 775-abc-wxyz.

Thank you,

A year ago my husband and I moved forward with moving in together/getting married after guidance from an SSI Social working assuring us he would not lose his benefits. However, when I married my husband he lost all of his SSI benefits that he had received for 10 years due to a mental disability.

Sadly since Social Security only considers the about of income I bring in and not bills/debt , the financial stress of barely surviving from check to check has killed our marriage and we are now looking to divorce. He is not mentally stable enough to work and does not have the ability to have an income of his own. I fear when we divorce he will be left with nothing.

I don't even know where to begin on seeing if his benefits can be reinstated, when, or what he would have to go through to try and after the false information from the last social worker we are reluctant to go to them for help again with out being able to back it up with our own information.

All of the information I have found has been towards individuals in their 60's ( we are only in our 30's), can you point me in the right direction on getting information on how to reinstate my husbands benefits once the divorce is complete or guidance on what procedures to take?

Thank you,


This is unfortunate. Most everything I've seen regarding SSI indicates that marriage will likely affect SSI payments if one of the partners has wage income.

As far as reinstatement due to divorce and loss of deemed income, this seems possible under an expedited system if you haven't been married too long :

If you have been ineligible for SSI and/or Medicaid for any reason other than work or medical recovery, you may be able to restart your SSI cash payment and/or Medicaid coverage within 12 months without a new application. When your situation changes, contact (the SSA) and ask about how you can restart your SSI benefits and/or Medicaid.

There also seem to be expedited processes for SSI reinstatement when one had income due to personal wages of the disabled (ex., However, this may not be appropriate for your case.

This also may be useful :

My soulmate was killed in 1998. I met and remarried quickly, thinking this was the way to move on. After 15 years of marriage Michael, has never left my heart. My love for him has basically ruined my marriage. My current husband says he can't compete with a dead man. Michael died when he was 29 and I was 30. I miss him terribly. He was my best friend. I know I didn't give myself time to let go , if thats even possible.

My current husband knows I am always going to be in love with Michael.i have been depressed most of our marriage. I don't believe in divorce . I married too soon, he made my kids laugh. But Michael will always be my love. My best friend my everything. I didn't know it would be this way.

I should have never married so soon, if at all. I am still in love with my dead husband.

My husband and I have been married for 15 years. We have no affection or intimacy . We are both miserable. I want to get my marriage annulled. Then give myself time to let Michael go, if possible.. My husband is impotent. I understand why.

I have a teenage daughter and her son I support. Can I get my benefits back from before I remarried and get an annulment because I was not mentally stable enough to know that I needed more time. Please help me. Sincerely, trapped and depressed.

I'm not sure of the exact question here, but it seems to be, "If I annul my current marriage, will I qualify for Social Security benefits?"

I am unaware of your exact situation, but it sounds like you are approximately 45 years old with children aged 15 years or more.

In general, you must be age 60 to qualify for survivor (widow's) benefits. So I do not see how you can qualify for survivor benefits at this time. If you are disabled, you can qualify for widow's benefits at age 50.

Since you remarried before age 60, you will not be entitled to survivor's benefits on your first husband's record unless your subsequent marriage ends, whether by death, divorce, or annulment.

Your children under age 18 may qualify for survivor benefits if they are not already receiving them. Your remarriage has no effect on the benefits your children receive.

Bless you.

My husband and I are devorced. I am receiving a portion of his social security. However, he now wants an annulment through the Church. If it is granted, will I still be able to get a portion of his social security? Will I have to return any money to Social Security?

Please contact the SSA for this.

I could not find definitive information on this. However, one SSA document indicates annulment (rather than divorce) may prevent one from receiving benefits as a divorced spouse :

A claimant whose marriage to the NH ended by an annulment decree is not entitled to mother's/father's insurance benefits. He or she is not the NH's widow(er) since the annulment presupposes an imperfect marriage. Thus, the claimant cannot be the NH's divorced spouse since he or she was never the NH's legal spouse.

Sponsored Links

Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration