My first husband died. I remarried 10 years later at age 51. I am now 61. If I divorce now will I be eligible for widow benefits? And is there any restrictions on my remarrying?
First and foremost, you can get married after the age of 60 without impacting any benefits you may be entitled to under a divorced or deceased spouse. So now that you're 61 you can make like XXXXX XXXXX and marry all you want.
If you were disabled when you married at age 51, that marriage is disregarded and you can get social security benefits. You had to be labeled disabled at age 50 to meet this criteria. You can't in retrospect claim you were disabled at the time.
If you divorce your husband, you should be able to get surviving spouse benefits under your first husband. Social Security states "If you remarry before you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married." The keyword there is "while you are married."
However, I really don't think you should divorce your current spouse, file for your first spouses survivor's benefits, and then remarry your current spouse. I think the SSA would figure out that one, and it might cause you some issues. I'm not saying that you are even planning on that, but I'm just trying to give you all the advice I can to keep you out of any issues.
For more details on surviving spouse benefits, check out this link: http://www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou5.htm#other
Thank you for your answer... Actually, I was planning on doing exactly what you outlined. Getting divorced, applying for widow benefits, and remarrying my current husband. Do you know specifically if that is not allowed? When I applied for my current benefits, I asked what my widow benefit would be if I had not remarried. It was a difference of almost $1000 per month. So I asked him if I divorced if I could still get my widow benefits and he told me yes. I'm just not sure of what happens if I remarry. I realize I might have issues... I'm just trying to figure out specifically what those issues would be.
Well what you are describing is sort of unethical. I hate using that word to a customer, but that's what it relates to. I couldn't as a professional in good conscious suggest that someone go through these steps simply to circumvent the rules the system has in place.
Also, the social security administration isn't as dumb as you might think. They could come back and argue that the divorce was invalid, and take those benefits back from you. IF you think that they'd never find out you remarried, remember they are a governmental organization. You'll file a joint tax return with your spouse so there's a good chance they can find out if they really wanted to.
Most states require you to be separated for a certain period of time and when you get divorced you are stating that you have lived separately, etc. If you never set up a separate residence and split up, then really you essentially lied on your divorce papers. I'm not a family lawyer, but speak to one about what you are essentially certifying when you file for divorce.
Is there a chance that you "wouldn't get caught" - of course. However, I don't want to advise you to do something that could have unintended legal consequences later on down the road. Hope this makes sense. Again, I don't think negatively of you for trying to find a way around this. Probably 95% of the people in your situation would likely wonder the exact same thing.
TN CPA with Master's degree from Ole Miss