Who Can Get Survivor Benefits And At What Age
After the death of a spouse, you can get a monthly Social Security survivor benefit. This is true as long as you have been married for at least nine months.
If you are caring for the child of your deceased spouse, and the child is under the age of 16, you can claim your spousal payment after their death even if you were married much less time.
You can collect a Social Security survivor benefit as early as age 60. If you are disabled, you can collect this payment as early as age 50.
At age 60 you will receive only about 70% of the amount you could get if you wait until your Full Retirement Age . This is age 66 for people born in 1945-1956. FRA increases for people born in 1962 or later. The highest FRA for collecting a spousal benefit is 67.
National Defence And Veterans Affairs Canada
If the deceased person was a serving or a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, follow these guidelines:
Serving Canadian Armed Force member
Inform the chain of command of the members unit, squadron or ship. A member of the unit will assist you during this difficult period.
Former Canadian Armed Force member / Veteran
Inform the Government of Canada Pension Centre if the deceased person was a Canadian Armed Forces Pension Plan member or a pension recipient.
Inform Veterans Affairs Canada if the Veteran was receiving services or benefits.
Consult Veterans Affairs Canada information on Death and bereavement.
When Should You Claim A Survivor’s Benefit
There are pros and cons to taking your survivor benefit before your FRA.
If you start at a lower age, you get this income for a longer time. The amount you get, though, may be lower than if you started later.
Many people can start to collect a survivor benefit before their reach FRA. It may make sense to start collecting now, then switch to your own retirement benefit at age 70 if it would be larger at that point.
For example, you could have these two options:
At first glance, taking the money at 60 might seem like a good idea. But choosing option 2 will provide at least $30,000 more income over your life.
It will also provide a more secure income at age 66 and beyond once you take into account. If your goal is to reduce the risk of living longer than you have money for, you will want to use the option that gives you the most income over the rest of your life.
This might mean not starting benefits right away, even if you are able to get them. If you wait until age 66 or 67 and get more, you will have a higher total payout from Social Security over your lifetime.
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Social Security Benefits For Surviving Spouses
If your spouse was receiving Social Security benefits upon their death, you must report the death as soon as possible. You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays or visit your local Social Security office in person.
You are eligible for a one-time, lump-sum death benefit of $255 from Social Security if:
- You were receiving benefits on your spouses record at the time of death, or
- If you were living in the same household as your spouse at the time of death.
Any benefits received in the name of your spouse during the month of death or later must be returned to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.
If your spouse worked long enough under Social Security, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. You must be age 60 or older or disabled and 50 or older to qualify.
How much youll receive depends on the percentage of your spouses benefit as well as your age and the type of benefit youre eligible for.
You must apply for survivor benefits in person. You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment.
Couples Who Have Claimed Benefits
If you and your spouse had both started claiming, the higher benefit amount becomes your monthly payment. The lower of the two payment amounts will be stopped.
If your deceased spouse had started getting payments, but you had not, you will have some choices to make about when you claim the survivor benefit. The age at which you begin benefits can provide more or less Social Security income over the course of your lifetime.
If you are unsure how to get the most out of your survivor payment, talk to a financial advisor. They will be able to suggest when and how to start claiming that income.
If you got married again after the death of your former spouse before you reach the age of 60 , you can’t get their survivor benefit.
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Documents You May Need To Provide
We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:
- Proof of the worker’s death
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
- U.S. military discharge paper if you had military service before 1968
- For disability benefits, the two forms that describe your medical condition and authorize disclosure of information to us
- W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for last year
- Final divorce decree, if applying as a surviving divorced spouse and
We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate.
Do not delay filing your claim just because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.
Effect On Social Security Solvency
To the extent that adoption of a private-accounts system led to an increase in the total amount of inheritance benefits received by heirs as a group, this would signify that some of the money that had been diverted from Social Security to private accounts had not been repaid, leaving the Social Security system with a net loss. Some resources that otherwise would have remained in the Social Security Trust Fund would have been passed to heirs instead. To prevent Social Securitys financing hole from expanding, these added inheritance benefits would have to be paid for through deeper cuts in Social Security benefits or larger increases in taxes than otherwise would be needed. As elsewhere in public policy, there is no free lunch here.
These issues and findings are examined in more detail below.
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Some Publications That Will Give You More Information On Disability Benefits
The Disability Starter Kit will help you get ready for your disability interview or online application. Kits are available for adults and for children under age 18.
The starter kits provide information about the specific documents and the information that we will request from you.
The kits also provide general information about the disability programs and our decision-making process.
Here are some additional resources with information on disability benefits:
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Minor Or Disabled Child
If you are the unmarried child under 18 of a worker who dies, you can be eligible to receive Social Security survivors benefits.
And you can get benefits at any age if you were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
Besides the worker’s natural children, their stepchildren, grandchildren, step grandchildren, or adopted children may receive benefits under certain circumstances.
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Social Security Spousal Benefits
Social Security is a vital source of retirement income for most women. For this reason, it is important to understand how the spousal benefit works and how it can impact the amount of Social Security income you receive.
As a spouse, you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record, or collect a spousal benefit in the amount of 50% of your spouses Social Security benefit, but not both. You are automatically entitled to receive whichever benefit provides you the higher monthly amount. In order to qualify for Social Security spousal benefits, you must be at least 62 years old and your spouse must also be collecting his or her own benefits. Additionally, if you are the higher earner, your spouse can apply to collect spousal benefits based on your work record. It is important to note that claiming a spousal benefit does not impact the benefit amount received by the worker whose earning record is being used.
Taking Benefits Early
- At age 65, you would receive 45.8% of your spouses benefit.
- At age 64, you would receive 41.7% of your spouses benefit.
- At age 63, you would receive 37.5% of your spouses benefit.
- At age 62, you would receive 35% of your spouses benefit.
Recent Changes to Claiming Strategies that Affect Spousal Benefits
Applying for Benefits
So To Speak
Chapter : How Are Social Security Survivor Benefits Calculated
When a worker pays into the Social Security system over the course of their life, they accumulate credits. A worker can receive up to four credits a year. For example, in 2020, workers will receive one credit for every $1,410 they earn. When your spouse has earned $5,640, they have earned their four credits for the year.
In order to claim retirement, a worker needs 40 credits. However, the number of credits required to provide survivor benefits for the workers family depends on the workers age when they die. This means that the younger a person is when they pass away, the fewer credits they will need for their family members receive survivor benefits.
When someone retires, or when they die, the amount of their benefit is calculated based on their earnings over their lifetime. This is the amount that survivors will receive all or part of. To calculate their benefit, Social Security adds up the workers income during the years they made the most money. They then index that total against average wages across the country during those years. This results in the workers Average Indexed Monthly Earnings . The Social Security Administration only includes the portion of a workers income up to the maximum taxable earnings limit. This is the amount that is taxed for Social Securityin 2020, thats $137,700. If your spouse earned more than that, the higher earnings will not be included in the calculation because these monies were not taxed by Social Security.
Did you Know?
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Lost Or Stolen Federal Payments
Report your lost, missing, or stolen federal check to the agency that issued the payment. It’s usually one of these paying agencies. If your documentation indicates it’s a different agency, and you need its contact information, look in the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.
To get an update on your claim, contact the Treasury Department Philadelphia Financial Center at 1-855-868-0151, option 1.
What Does A Ssn Allow You To Do
With all this talk about a Social Security Number, why is it all that important?
Well, it allows you a few key benefits in the US. For instance, health insurance is easier to attain with a SSN, although its not explicitly required by all companies.
Most states require a SSN when you apply for a drivers license, although some people may be exempt. Other times, signing up to private classes and colleges is easier if you have an SSN . Finally, some large purchases may require a number as well.
At the very least, you will need to get your SSC to track your earnings before you begin working.
Speaking of which, remember that you must either have a I-765 work permit OR have the green card before you are legally allowed to work in the US. A SS Card alone isnt enough.
Also, some of us may have been in the US before on a different visa and could have worked previously. In this case you dont have to apply for a new card. You must keep the same SSN, however, you still need a work permit or Green card before accepting employment.
A Social Security Number itself doesnt change over the course of your life even if you get a name change or change your marital status. You can get it reissued if you change your name.
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Social Security Survivor Benefits: The Complete Guide
Whenever Im asked about how Social Security survivor benefits work, I have a simple answer:
At death of the first spouse, surviving spouses receive the higher of:
- Their own monthly benefit, or
- The monthly benefit of the deceased.
Thats the clean and straightforward answer, but its not quite that simple. Although Social Security survivor benefits really are pretty simple, every family is different. Unique situations and variables can introduce some complexity.
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Differences Between Social Security Death Benefits And Social Security Survivors Benefits
People tend to generalize Social Security death benefits and Social Security survivors benefits and misunderstand them to be the same, but there are distinct differences between the two.
Retirees who have worked for 10 years or more while paying Social Security taxes earn their Social Security benefits, while Medicare benefits typically apply to retirees of age 65 and older, regardless of work history.
Social Security Administration manages the functions of the two programs. This means that anyone receiving Social Security Benefits gets an enrollment automatically into the Medicare program after turning 65.
The Social Security death benefit is a one-time lump-sum payment that leaves qualified survivors $255.
The Social Security survivors benefit is an ongoing benefit paid to qualifying family members of the deceased.
The more that person paid into Social Security in the form of taxes over their working years, the higher the survivors benefits will be.
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I Dont Have Anything Saved What Should I Do
Your options are limited here, but there are moves that may get some Social Security income flowing now while preserving the possibility of higher benefits later.
One strategy is to claim benefits now but suspend them later to accumulate what are known as delayed retirement credits. Lets say our out-of-work 62-year-old claimant finds a new job at 64. When she reaches her full retirement age, she could suspend her benefits and begin accruing delayed credits, calculated from her already reduced benefit. Doing so would add roughly $50,000 to her lifetime benefit, Mr. Meyer said. And if she waits until 63 to make her initial filing and then executes this suspend strategy, the addition to her likely lifetime payout will rise to about $71,000.
You can only suspend once, but it does add an element of flexibility that can result in more cumulative benefits, Mr. Meyer said.
People who gain new employment while receiving Social Security should be aware of one complication here. Its called the retirement earnings test.
If you claim benefits before your full retirement age and keep working, Social Security withholds a portion of your benefits if your earnings exceed certain amounts, a figure known as the exempt amount.
Other Things You Need To Know
There are limits on how much survivors may earn while they receive benefits.
Benefits for a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse may be affected by several additional factors:
- If you remarry before you reach age 60 , you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married.
- If you remarry after you reach age 60 , you will continue to qualify for benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record.
- If you receive benefits as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you are eligible for retirement benefits and your retirement rate is higher than your rate as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse.
- In many cases, a widow or widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate.
- If you will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, your Social Security benefits as a survivor may be affected.
However, if your current spouse is a Social Security beneficiary, you may want to apply for spouse’s benefits on their record. If that amount is more than your widow’s or widower’s benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount.
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Chapter : Who Is Eligible For Survivor Benefits From Social Security
- A widow or widower age 60 or older who was and did not remarry before age 60
- A surviving divorced spouse who was married to the deceased for at least 10 years
- A widow or widower of any age caring for the deceaseds child who is under 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on their record
- An unmarried child of the deceased who is: younger than age 18 or age 18 or older with a disability that began before 22
- Parents of the deceased worker who are 1) at least 62 2) were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income, and 3) whose own Social Security benefit is not larger than that of their deceased child
Did you Know?
If you were married to the deceased for at least9 months, you could be eligible for survivors benefits.