If your ex-husband or ex-wife was disabled and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and then died, you may be to receive benefits as a surviving ex-spouse. These benefits are available to divorced spouses who were married for at least ten years.
The requirements and benefits for a surviving ex-spouse are very similar to those provided to surviving spouses (see our article on survivors benefits in general).
To collect Social Security benefits after your ex-spouse dies, your ex-spouse had to have been collecting SSDI (or Social Security retirement) benefits at the time of death. Also, you must still be unmarried (with some exceptions—see below), and:
The marital status of your ex-spouse at the time of his or her death has no effect on your ability to receive surviving ex-spouse disability or retirement benefits.
But if you remarry before the age of 60, or before the age 50 if you are disabled, you won't be able to receive benefits as a surviving ex-spouse. However, if that marriage later ends due to divorce, death, or annulment before the death of your ex-spouse, you would be able to receive surviving ex-spouse benefits as though you never remarried.
If you remarry after you reach 60 years old, or 50 years old if you are disabled, it will have no effect on your ability to receive surviving ex-spouse benefits.
Below are the different payment categories for surviving ex-spouse benefits:
Note that if you work while receiving a survivor's benefit, your benefit may be reduced, depending on your age and the amount of money you earn. For more information, see our article on how working affects survivors benefits.
If, as a surviving ex-spouse, you receive benefits based on your ex-spouse's earnings record by meeting either the age or age and disability requirement, the benefit you receive will have no effect on the amount that other survivors will receive. In other words, it doesn't count toward the maximum family benefit. But if you are receiving a surviving ex-spouse benefit based on the fact that you are caring for a child under 16 years old who is also receiving Social Security benefits based on your deceased ex-spouse's record, the amount you receive will count towards the total family limit. (This means that the percentage you receive may decrease the percentage of benefits that other survivors can receive.)
If you are divorced and your ex-spouse is still alive, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits if you are 62 or older. For more information, see our article on Social Security dependents benefits.