When should you apply for Social Security?

Widowed, divorced have options
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Widowed, divorced consumers have optionsDivorced spouses who have not remarried have the option of claiming their own benefits or those based on the record of a former spouse if that would be more beneficial, provided the marriage lasted at least 10 years.

Widows or widowers may claim survivor's benefits even if their spouse dies after they have already started receiving Social Security. Of course, if your deceased spouse's benefit is less than yours, it doesn't make sense to apply for survivor's benefits.

Many financial planners advise men to delay claiming benefits for as long as possible so they can leave a better benefit for their wives, since women generally have a longer life expectancy than men.

According to the Social Security website, these are the typical payouts for survivors:

  • A widow or widower, at full retirement age or older, generally receives 100 percent of the worker's basic benefit amount;
  • A widow or widower, age 60 or older, but under full retirement age, receives about 71-99 percent of the worker's basic benefit amount; or
  • A widow or widower, any age, with a child younger than age 16, receives 75 percent of the worker's benefit amount.




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