Social Security SURVIVOR benefits from deceased EX-Wife?

  • We were married in 1978.
  • We Divorced in 1999.
  • Neither one of us ever re-married.
  • My EX-Wife died in January of 2020 (21 years after we divorced) at age 60, she would have been 61 this past July.
  • I will be 62 in a few weeks (Nov 2020).
  • I retired in 2018 at 59. I have had no W2 earnings since and plans to.
  • My earnings over our lifetime are higher than hers so my benefits will be higher.

I'm researching survivor benefits and would like to apply for them. I meet the criteria that we were married longer than 10 years and I never remarried. From my research I can collect them and put off my own benefits and let them grow. Then when I decide to take mine at FRA or whenever the survivor benefits will stop. Also by taking the survivor benefits it will not reduce my own benefits.


So with info I provided and I understanding this correctly?


Thanx in advance for any input.

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Honored Social Butterfly

Sounds like you will be able to do what you have described.

SSA: If You Are The Survivor 

  • If you are also eligible for retirement benefits (but haven't applied yet), you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other (higher) benefit at a later date.

You can't apply online and you will need to have all the related documents - marriage / divorce, etc.  Since many of the local offices are closed, you will have to find out the best way to get them the info.


The survivors benefit may not be too high if you are gonna apply early but then you can let your self-benefit grow until 70 (or any time between your FRA and 70) so your benefit takes advantage of the delayed retirement credits.

SSA: Receiving Survivors Benefits Early 


Good Luck



It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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