How does remarriage affect ex-spousal benefits?

Remarriage can trigger significant changes for those who receive benefits based on their ex-spouse's record. 

Ex-Spousal Social Security Benefits and Remarriage

Qualifying for Social Security on an Ex-Spouse's Record

To be entitled to an ex-spousal benefit, the claimant must have been married to their ex-spouse for more than 10 years and be unmarried. Additionally, the worker must not be entitled to a retirement or disability benefit that exceeds 50% of the ex-spouse's primary insurance amount.

If the divorced spouse remarries, often they will cease to qualify for an ex-spousal benefit. However, there are some exceptions. A divorced spouse will continue to be eligible for spousal benefits under the former spouse if the new spouse is entitled to any of the following benefits:

  • Widow’s/widower’s benefits
  • Mother’s/father’s benefits
  • Child disability benefits
  • Divorced spousal benefits
  • Parent's benefits

Please review the following Social Security Administration references regarding Divorced Spouses and Remarriage

Qualifying for Social Security Spousal Benefits Under a New Partner

If a spouse loses their ex-spousal benefit due to remarriage, they may qualify for spousal benefits on their new partner’s record. In most cases, the spouse would need to be married to the new spouse for 12 continuous months. Additionally, the spouse must not be entitled to a retirement or disability benefit based on a primary insurance amount (PIA) greater than or equal to 50% of the worker’s PIA and must be at least 62 years of age.

After you remarry, you will not qualify for a spousal benefit for 12 months unless you are the natural mother or father of the worker’s biological child or if you were entitled, or potentially entitled, to any of the following benefits:

  • Wife’s/husband’s benefits
  • Widow’s/widower’s benefits
  • Divorced spouse’s benefits
  • Surviving divorced spouse’s benefits
  • Parent’s benefits
  • Annuity payments under the Railroad Retirement Act for widows, widowers, parents, or children 18 years old or older

If the new spouse is not entitled or is not eligible for a retirement benefit, the divorced spouse would lose their benefit.

You can view the Social Security Administrations Program Operations Manual System policy on Spousal benefit entitlement requirements click here.