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  • Writer's pictureChris Stein, CFP®

Spousal Benefits Without the Wait

This is a follow up to a blog post from June 8th, 2016 entitled “Who Qualifies as a Spouse for Benefits?”  As it turns out, there is another exception to the one year wait for spousal benefits under an additional provision not mentioned in that post.

From that post I wrote:

“Secondly, the person must additionally qualify under one of these three options;

  1. Meet a duration of marriage test, that is basically being married for at least 1 year prior to applying for Spousal Benefits; or

  2. Be the natural mother or father of the worker’s biological son or daughter, even if that child is no longer living; or

  3. Have been entitled to certain auxiliary or survivor’s benefits in the month immediately before the marriage in question. This includes spousal benefits, survivor’s benefits, parent’s benefits or childhood disability benefits.  This is an important one for retirement age individuals as it enables a person receiving divorced spouse benefits to then switch to a spousal benefit on their new spouse’s record without waiting an entire year.  Very few people know of this alternative requirement and assume a person loses their benefits for a year until they can re-apply on the new marriage.”

Potentially Entitled?

In the 3rd point I mentioned if you were “entitled” to certain benefits in the month prior to marriage, however you also qualify for immediate spousal benefits upon marriage if you were “potentially entitled” to those other benefits.  The difference is that “entitled” means you were actually receiving the benefits, whereas “potentially entitled” means you COULD have been receiving benefits had you applied for them and met any age requirement.  This came to our attention from a person who received benefits immediately upon remarrying even though they were not at the time of the wedding receiving benefits on their ex-spouses record.  When I investigated I ran across the “potentially entitled” wording and it became clear why she was entitled immediately.

Bottom line is that if you are over age 62 and had been married over 10 years before remarrying, make sure to notify the SSA upon remarriage as you may be entitled immediately to benefits without the traditional 1 year wait.

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