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Ask Dr. Fiona Chen Your Own Question
Dr. Fiona Chen
Dr. Fiona Chen, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 482
Experience:  Former IRS Revenue Agent
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My present husband and I are in the process of divorcing and

Customer Question

My present husband and I are in the process of divorcing and it will be finalized the 26th of Oct. It's my understanding that I will be able to apply for Survivors Benefits under my EX husbands benefits as we were married for 20 years. How do I proceed and how soon after this divorce can I apply and what about the death certificate proving his death.Do I have to obtain it and how or does SS have record of it? Is there any way of finding out what my benefits would be and how long after applying does it take to receive them?.........Thank You,
JA: These retirement benefits are supposed to help us but they can be so complicated! The Retirement Expert will help you get the most benefits propertly. I'm trying to find the right Retirement Accountant for you right now. As soon as they are ready, I will let you know. Is there anything else the Retirement Accountant should be aware of?
Customer: The only other thing I can think of right now is that I never changed my legal name to the man I am divorcing now....have always gone by my exhusbands name...Also my ex was a retired veteran... we were married for 20 years while he was on active duty
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 7 months ago.

Dear Customer,

1) The date of action is when you receive a copy of court approved divorce decree. Or even better, October 27, 2016.

2) You may not want to apply but walk into a regional, local SSA office to make inquiry.

The reason why I say this is because if you are not at full retirement age, your benefit could be discounted.

Hopefully, your current divorce will get you some good assets to live for a while.

Then, it is possible for you to wait for your full retirement age to get a larger, full amount.

3) More importantly, because your deceased spouse was in the military, you are likely qualify under his pension. You need to make that inquiry first. That one should not have a full retirement age limitation. Go and get that inquiry done first. Pension may or may not offset your social security survival benefit. But pension can make your total package larger.

It is like sailing both boats at the same time. Do both.

4) The SSA should have the death information on your first deceased spouse. They will let you know what documents you will need.

5) For now, the most important thing is to make sure you get a "good" divorce. Can you get more money? Half of his retirement, half of his business ownership of his shares, if he has pension to come, half of his pension, half of his investment account, etc. Can you ask for maintenance, alimony until your retirement age? Think, think, think. This is your focus until October 26.

6) You may be able to go on your current husband's SS when waiting for your first deceased spouse's SS at your full retirement age. That is worthwhile to obtain information when you go to the SSA.

Enclosed publication website link is for your further reference.

Please feel free to follow up.



Fiona Chen, MPA, Ph.D., CPA, ABV, CFF, CITP