Ohio Social Security Disability And SSI Legal Blog

Can a divorced spouse receive survivors benefits?

Surviving family members can receive benefits through Social Security based on the deceased’s earnings before passing away. Immediate family members can expect to be eligible for these entitlements, but there are times when the former spouse can also qualify. Depending on the circumstances, divorced couples can be potential beneficiaries for survivors benefits if the other party suddenly dies.

What factors to consider

This type of Social Security benefit is vital in keeping surviving family members afloat after someone’s death. Children and spouses are understandably eligible, but so are former spouses according to specific factors, including the following:

  • The marriage’s duration before the divorce — The surviving divorced spouse may only be eligible if the marriage lasted at least ten years before filing for divorce.
  • Remarriage after the divorce — Eligibility for these benefits can depend on whether the individual remarries after the divorce. It may only become irrelevant when the remarriage happens after the surviving divorced spouse turns 60.
  • Shared children with the deceased — Despite the divorce, these benefits can apply regardless of other factors if the surviving divorced spouse and the deceased share a special needs child together. The same typically applies if the child is under 16 years old.

Still, other factors can come into play and affect eligibility based on the situation, such as the deceased’s earnings and credits before death. Because of these considerations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may approach scenarios from case to case.

Securing assistance appropriately

Sometimes, determining eligibility for survivors benefits is straightforward. Other times, it could be more challenging, such as when specific details and circumstances can impact what happens next. To address any confusion and uncertainties, seeking legal guidance could be helpful. Experienced insight can also help clarify misunderstandings and issues involving these programs.