Q&A: Divorced spouse benefits and remarriage

Dear Liz: My recently divorced girlfriend receives Social Security based on her ex-husband, who is still living. If we were to get married, would either of us lose part or all of our Social Security benefits? It seems like a simple, straightforward question, but every Social Security representative I speak with by phone or in person gives me a different answer. My girlfriend did not work long enough to earn her own Social Security benefits. She was married over 30 years and is over 60.

Answer: The answer to this question isn’t complicated, so it’s unclear why you got different answers. If the ex-spouse is still alive, then your girlfriend’s benefit is a divorced spousal benefit that ends if she remarries.

If the ex-spouse were not alive, then your girlfriend would be receiving a type of survivor benefit known as a divorced survivor benefit. People receiving survivor benefits can keep them after marriage if they are 60 or older at the time of the marriage.

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