Brenda Lyle – Florida Today
Q: I’m retired and about to remarry. Will I lose any benefits?
A: Remarrying in older adulthood can feel more like a business merger than a wedding. Buckle up. There are many things to consider, especially if each partner has children from their former marriages. Because remarriages can be financially complicated, some attorneys recommend prenuptial agreements. Let’s look at what you stand to gain or lose with remarriage — although this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Widow(er) benefits can definitely be affected by remarriage. If you remarry before age 60, you will forfeit the widow(er) benefit. If you receive Supplemental Security Income, your amount may change based on your new spouse’s income and resources. You have to be married at least one year to collect on your new spouse’s Social Security earnings record, but can still collect on your former spouse’s (if higher), if you were married at least 10 years.
If you are a former spouse covered by the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and you remarry before age 55, you lose SBP eligibility but will be reinstated if the marriage ends in death or divorce. If you remarry after 55, you will retain your eligibility. Remarriage does not affect the award of the former spouse portion of a military member’s retirement pay.
MEDICAID & MEDICARE
Most MEDICAID programs are income based, so remarriage will affect your eligibility. Medicaid has income limitations for both individuals and couples for all of their programs. MEDICARE treats married couples as individuals. Medicare benefits are based on your work credits or your spouse’s work credits (if you never worked). When using a former spouse’s work credits for Medicare, you will lose eligibility upon remarriage, but can resume benefits using your new spouse’s work credits. If your new spouse is a high wage earner, your Part B premium might go up.
SAME SEX MARRIAGE
On June 26, 2015 the federal government legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states. Recognition by the federal government means that all federal benefits (and rules) apply to married same sex couples. This includes Social Security, federal pensions, Medicaid, Medicare and military pensions.
If you are considering remarriage later in life, you and your intended should sit down with paper, pen and a calculator and assess the situation. Beyond the financial ramifications, becoming a new blended family necessitates another look at your estate planning documents. If you need help with items like your Will, Durable Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate, a free consultation at One Senior Place is a good start.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.