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How to receive Social Security benefits from your deceased ex-spouse

May 9, 2012, 6 a.m.

Did you know that it's possible for you to receive social security retirement benefits from a deceased ex-spouse? If so, you're probably wondering whether or not the length of time you were married to your ex-spouse will impact your ability to collect that distribution. The answer to this question depends entirely on what your circumstances are. Here are the requirements as spelled out by the United States Social Security Administration on how to get social security benefits from a deceased ex-spouse.

The length of marriage requirement

In order for you to collect social security retirement benefits from your deceased ex-spouse, you will have had to be married to that person for at least 10 years. If your marriage lasted nine years and 364 days, you're out of luck. If, on the other hand, you were legally married for a period of 10 years or more, you will have met one of the requirements.

Caring for a disabled child

You'll be exempt from the length of marriage requirement outlined above if you're caring for a child under the age of 16. The only requirement that has to be met in this case is that the child has to be the natural child or the adopted child of your deceased ex-spouse.

The age requirement

The United States Social Security Administration has in effect an age requirement that you're required to meet before you're eligible to start receiving social security retirement benefits from a deceased ex. If you're over the age of 60, you can begin receiving payout. If you're disabled, that age requirement is lowered to 50.

Marital status rules

If you remarried before the age of 60, this will prevent you from being able to collect on your ex-spouse's benefits. If you're disabled, the age threshold is lowered to 50 -- meaning that if you're disabled and you don't remarry until the age of 50, you'll still be able to collect on your ex-spouse's benefits.

Your own personal Social Security retirement benefits

If you qualify for Social Security benefits on your own record and the money that you're scheduled to receive is greater than the money you would receive by collecting from your deceased ex, you're not eligible to collect his or her benefit.

To learn more about the rules for qualifying for social security benefits from a deceased ex-spouse, visit the United States Social Security Administration website.

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