Many people overlook survivor benefits. These benefits can be very valuable, especially if you are or were a low earner. Survivor benefits can exceed your retirement benefits. You will lose the survivor benefits on the record of the deceased spouse if you remarry prior to age sixty. If you remarry before age sixty, but that subsequent marriage terminates, you will again be eligible for survivor benefits. If you wait to remarry at age sixty or thereafter, you will retain the survivor benefits on the record of the deceased spouse. You will have to have been married for at least nine months to do so.
After you’ve been married to your new spouse for at least nine months, you’ll qualify for survivor benefits on his or her record. If your new spouse dies and his or her survivor benefits are higher than those of your first spouse, you could apply for them instead. If you wait until reaching full retirement age, your survivor benefits will equal 100 percent of the higher of either deceased spouse’s full retirement benefits.