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Dear Senior Living Adviser,
I just learned that I will receive Social Security death benefits from my late first husband. We were married for 12 years. I’m also divorced from my second husband after 35 years.

Will I be able to switch to a survivors benefit based on my second ex-husband’s record when he passes?
— Clarissa Clarify

Dear Clarissa,
I’m going to assume that you didn’t marry a third husband before turning age 60.

The Social Security Administration says, “If you remarry before you reach age 60 (or age 50 if disabled), you can’t receive widows benefits as long as that marriage remains in effect.”

If you did marry again at age 62 or older, you may get benefits on your new spouse’s work, if those benefits are higher.

Can you switch benefits?

If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. You’ve got 2 of those.

Can you switch to a survivors benefit based on your second ex-husband’s record when he passes? Yes, but there may be other claiming strategies that can improve your benefits prior to his death.

Your note is a little light on the ages and work record of you and your former spouses. I’d suggest working with an outside consultant, like Social Security Solutions or Maximize My Social Security, to see if you can upsize your benefit check now versus waiting on news.

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