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Marrying for SS survivor's benefits?
Old 01-30-2015, 10:20 PM   #1
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Marrying for SS survivor's benefits?

Something doesn't make sense to me. My understanding is if one is married for at least 9 months, then the surviving spouse qualifies for SS survivor benefits. If that's true, why aren't people routinely harvesting survivor's benefits via marriages of convenience to an older person?

Assume the spouse is a US citizen who qualifies for his/her own SS benefits.
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:46 PM   #2
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Something doesn't make sense to me. My understanding is if one is married for at least 9 months, then the surviving spouse qualifies for SS survivor benefits. If that's true, why aren't people routinely harvesting survivor's benefits via marriages of convenience to an older person?

Assume the spouse is a US citizen who qualifies for his/her own SS benefits.

Off the top of my head, I believe it's a marriage of 10 years or more.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:05 PM   #3
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That is for divorced couples where the recipient is alive. I don't see any length of marriage requirement for widows or widowers.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:45 PM   #4
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I'm not a lawyer nor can I read like one. Here are the SSA definitions of Spouse Surviving Spouse. It states 9 months. Social Security Act ยง216
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Old 01-31-2015, 12:17 AM   #5
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Yep, it's 9 months.
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Old 01-31-2015, 12:42 AM   #6
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Something doesn't make sense to me. My understanding is if one is married for at least 9 months, then the surviving spouse qualifies for SS survivor benefits. If that's true, why aren't people routinely harvesting survivor's benefits via marriages of convenience to an older person?

Assume the spouse is a US citizen who qualifies for his/her own SS benefits.
Maybe the older person doesn't feel like marrying the convenient spouse?

Also, if she is say 18, so the old fella feels like it might be worth the trouble, she won't start getting any money until she is 60- or she manages to produce children.

I think if I were a young woman and wanted to harvest something, I would move to LA or Boston, hang around a hospital late at might and seduce some dead tired surgeon, tell him not to bother with condoms 'cause I am on the pill. Then be sure to carry the pregnancy to term. Harvest all that lovely child support, then after a few years do it again, rinse and repeat. You may have to change hospitals from time to time, and avoid chlamydia or anything that might damage your fertility.

Ha
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:10 AM   #7
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I think it would be a better deal to harvest the survivor benefit of a widowed Federal retiree. Maybe I will go pick up a young thing in Thailand if DW dies. Oh wait, I'm not attracted to 20 somethings. Nuts, I will have to move to the Villages.
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:22 AM   #8
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It has been done before
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Despite the fact that the Civil War ended April 9, 1865 (53,630 days ago, for reference), the government is still paying out veterans' pensions.
Records from the Department of Veterans' Affairs show that two children of Civil War veterans, as of September, are receiving pensions from their fathers' service.
U.S. Government Still Pays Two Civil War Pensions - US News
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:30 AM   #9
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Marriage brings on all kinds of nasty civil consequences. If the old person doesn't have enough money to pay their out-of-pocket medical and LTC costs, your assets/income are fair game. I'd choose my ancient husband carefully.


In my case, if I outlive DH I'm unlikely to marry again because I don't want my finances entwined with anyone else's for the convenience of the state.


I could, however, be persuaded to change my mind if George Clooney becomes available. ;-)
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:47 AM   #10
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I agree with Athena - there are financial implications and reasons for marrying or NOT marrying.

My mom was a county worker with a nice pension. My dad got full surivivor benefits as long as he remained single. So he had a nice COLAd reason not to legally remarry. My stepmom was a widow collecting SS from her dead husband. I think she also had her first husbands military pension (she met my dad when she was in her late 70's so the previous marriages were long marriages.)

My dad and step mom were in love - but between them they had more than $5k of income at risk if they got legally married. Instead they became "registered domestic partners" which gave them many of the civil rights of marriage (ability to make end of life decisions for each other in a hospital, etc.) They would have gone without any legal binding agreement if California hadn't had the Reg.Dom.Partner thing for same sex and senior couples. (hetero couples who were under 50 didn't qualify.)

I think it's reasonable for couples to look at the financial implications of their civil arrangements.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:57 AM   #11
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I think it would be a better deal to harvest the survivor benefit of a widowed Federal retiree. Maybe I will go pick up a young thing in Thailand if DW dies. Oh wait, I'm not attracted to 20 somethings. Nuts, I will have to move to the Villages.

Funny, I got the same problem. I was attracted to them for 30 years, but have not been in more recent years. Probably a medical issue, I need to set up a doctor appt.


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Old 01-31-2015, 10:11 AM   #12
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That is for divorced couples where the recipient is alive. I don't see any length of marriage requirement for widows or widowers.

Thanks for clarifying. I've got 36 years in April with DH so haven't paid attention!
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:13 AM   #13
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Marriage brings on all kinds of nasty civil consequences. If the old person doesn't have enough money to pay their out-of-pocket medical and LTC costs, your assets/income are fair game. I'd choose my ancient husband carefully.


In my case, if I outlive DH I'm unlikely to marry again because I don't want my finances entwined with anyone else's for the convenience of the state.


I could, however, be persuaded to change my mind if George Clooney becomes available. ;-)

Yeah, I imagine he could pay his way into old age. He might be a safe enough bet for ya!
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:45 AM   #14
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Marriage brings on all kinds of nasty civil consequences. If the old person doesn't have enough money to pay their out-of-pocket medical and LTC costs, your assets/income are fair game. I'd choose my ancient husband carefully.


In my case, if I outlive DH I'm unlikely to marry again because I don't want my finances entwined with anyone else's for the convenience of the state.


I could, however, be persuaded to change my mind if George Clooney becomes available. ;-)
I was saving myself for Burt Reynolds or Tom Selleck but they both got so damned old...
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:59 AM   #15
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I could, however, be persuaded to change my mind if George Clooney becomes available. ;-)
Finally, a man rich enough to allow you live in the style you want to be accustomed to??
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Old 01-31-2015, 11:17 AM   #16
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In my case, if I outlive DH I'm unlikely to marry again because I don't want my finances entwined with anyone else's for the convenience of the state.
+1000 That's exactly how F and I both feel. After working a lifetime, we each have accumulated a nestegg that is sufficient. Neither of us wants to mix finances with anybody else because we can't afford to start over at this age.

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I could, however, be persuaded to change my mind if George Clooney becomes available. ;-)
Please, go right ahead. Neither George Clooney nor Clint Eastwood (my favorite) could even begin to persuade me to re-enter what I regard as the financial/monetary arrangement of state sanctioned marriage. A personal commitment that doesn't include financial entanglements or the approval of government entities can be equally binding to honorable and trustworthy couples.

As for SS survivor's benefits, to me it has never been worth it to even consider marrying for these benefits alone, any more than it would be worth marrying for alimony alone. Each to his/her own. I regard myself as more capable, self-reliant, and upright than to do that.
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Old 01-31-2015, 11:31 AM   #17
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As for SS survivor's benefits, to me it has never been worth it to even consider marrying for these benefits alone, any more than it would be worth marrying for alimony alone. Each to his/her own. I regard myself as more capable, self-reliant, and upright than to do that.
My favorite horror story of poor retirement planning was my step-grandma. She and Grandpa met and married after my Grandma died; both were in their 70s. Her first husband was also deceased. When he died she found out that he'd selected his pension option that paid the highest payments but provided no survivor benefits (apparently in the years before a spouse had to sign off on that). So, the payments stopped although she did get the SS Widow's benefit. Her kids told her that if she wanted to live decently she'd have to marry a guy who was financially stable. Enter Grandpa.

In fairness it was a good marriage but how awful to be casting around for a husband in your 70s because you need the money.
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Old 01-31-2015, 11:49 AM   #18
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Please, go right ahead. Neither George Clooney nor Clint Eastwood (my favorite) could even begin to persuade me.
There's not enough money in the world.
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Old 01-31-2015, 11:17 PM   #19
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I know a fella and gal that got hitched, he was dying of cancer, and they were definitely friends.
He suggested she marry him quick so she could collect pension etc. He died within weeks of getting married.
Then she got herself a nice 20 yr younger fella, sold the house and moved West !
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:00 AM   #20
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Marriage brings on all kinds of nasty civil consequences.
D'oh! Of course it's the potential civil liability. Taxes too, to a much lesser degree.

I know one 52 year old woman who mostly likely could use the benefits and who has lived her life by a set of core principles such that I know she would do the right thing. Whether that's enough to ensure such an arrangement against adverse outcomes will require legal advice.

Thanks for the help.
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