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Social Security Q&A

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Updated: 1/13/2006 9:56 am

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
(KRT)

Q: I soon will be 60 years old and am afraid I will not qualify for widow's benefits at that time. I was married to my husband for many years. But four years after he died, I married another man. That marriage was later annulled because of fraud on his part. Did that mistake mess up my chance to get my first husband's Social Security?

A: Don't worry. When you turn 60, you will be eligible for widow's benefits on your first husband's Social Security record. The fact that your second marriage ended (or because it was annulled, it legally never happened) is the key. The law says you merely have to be unmarried in order to qualify for a deceased husband's Social Security. So, because you are now unmarried, you will get widow's benefits on your first husband's Social Security record when you turn 60.

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Q: My wife and I recently turned 62 and signed up for our Social Security. We plan to sell several pieces of property we own in order to have some money to supplement our Social Security. But a neighbor told us that this would count as earnings, and because it's more than $11,520, we will lose our Social Security. Is he right?

A: No, he's wrong. The law says if you are under your full retirement age, we must withhold $1 from your benefits for every $2 you "earn" over $11,520. And in this case, "earn" refers to wages from a job or self-employment income from a business. The money you will be making will come from the sale of an asset, not from work.

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(This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213.)

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© 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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