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What Happens To Your Social Security When You Die

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When A Family Member Dies

What Happens to Your Social Security Number When You Die?

We should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 . You can speak to a Social Security representative between 8:00 am 5:30 pm. Monday through Friday. You can also visit your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to speak to someone.

When A Person Dies When Does Social Security Stop

What you may not know is that SSA cannot pay benefits for the month of death. So for anyone receiving Social Security benefits, the benefit received for the month of death and any following months must be returned to SSA. For example, when a person dies in January, no benefit payment is due in February or beyond.

Here’s How To Determine The Survivor Benefit Calculation

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Last month, we spelled out how widows and widowers can mix and match their own benefit with a survivor benefit to boost their lifetime income . But what happens if your spouse dies years before the age for claiming Social Security?

Retirement Report reader Michelle McIntosh of Lilburn, Ga., is in that boat: Her husband died at age 49, 13 years before he could have claimed a retirement benefit. Now about to turn 62 herself, McIntosh says she received conflicting information in recent years as to the amount of her survivor benefit. “It’s not addressed very clearly anywhere I could find,” she says.

Typically in such cases, the survivor benefit is calculated as if the deceased spouse had reached full retirement age. But unlike the retirement benefit, which is based on the worker’s highest 35 years of earnings, the survivor benefit calculation may use fewer years of earnings because the worker’s shortened life span is taken into account, according to Jim Blair, a former district manager for an Ohio Social Security office and a partner at Premier Social Security Consulting, in Sharonville, Ohio. For instance, the survivor benefit from a 50-year-old who died fully insured would be based on the deceased worker’s highest 23 years of earnings.

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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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

Chapter : How Are Social Security Survivor Benefits Calculated

What Happens to Your Social Security Number When You Die?

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.

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What Happens To Your Social Security Benefits When You Die

David Bolton

What will the Social Security Administration do with the benefits of someone that dies before retirement and how can a social security claim this benefit?

When someone dies before retiring, their social security goes to a surviving spouse who can collect the benefits at retirement age. The partner can also get it if they are over 50 and disabled, with a child of less than 16 years or a disabled child.

If you are a social security benefit survivor, there are a lot of things you need to know about how to claim the benefit, what can limit you from a successful claim, what can reduce the social security money, and how to go estimate the money.

What Happens To Social Security When You Die

The end of a persons life doesnt necessarily mean the end of their social security payments. Depending on factors like income and dependents, social security checks will still be issued to someone else even after the original recipient passes away.

Find: Can You Afford To Die in Your State?

According to the Social Security Administration website, if you work and pay into Social Security, part of those taxes go toward survivor benefits, which means your surviving spouse, children and even parents could be eligible for payments based on your earnings.

Likewise, you and your family could be eligible for benefits based on the earnings of someone else who died as long as the deceased worked long enough to qualify for benefits.

If you have no survivors or dependents, the payments simply cease.

Whenever someone dies, the Social Security office should be notified immediately. This is usually handled by the funeral home, which sends in a form called Statement of Death by Funeral Director.

If that doesnt happen, youll have to call the SSA you cannot report a death or apply for survivor benefits online. If you need to report a death or apply for survivor benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Youll need to provide the deceased persons social security number when applying. In the event of your death, your survivor will need to provide your social security number. The executor of the estate can also call Social Security, CNBC reported.

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When Is Spousal Survivor Benefit Possible

There are three main scenarios for spousal social security survivor benefit when one of the partners dies.

The first is when both are already claiming Social Security checks when one spouse passes away, only one check will be valid, so the spouse will be allowed to choose the higher of the two benefits.

The second scenario is if one of them is claiming or neither of them was claiming Social Security check depending on age. The living spouse will be able to choose which check to claim from age 62 to 70. Sometimes in that frame, if you are claiming your late spouse’s social security benefits, you are able to tap into that as early as age 60.

The third scenario is when you are not a participant in Social Security and maybe you have a government pension, a state teacher’s pension, or some other pension where you didn’t actually pay into Social Security but your late spouse did.

What happens in this situation is called a government pension offset where a Social Security check will be reduced by two-thirds of your pension check.

Chapter : How Much Will You Receive In Survivor Benefits

Legal Questions : What Happens to Your Social Security Number When You Die?

After the passing of the worker, Social Security pays a one-time death benefit of $255 which can be collected by the widow or child.

Then there is the monthly Social Security survivor benefit. That benefit is based on the Social Security benefit the worker was receiving .

The benefit can be up to 100% of what your spouse would have received at full retirement. If the benefit you would receive as a survivor is higher than the benefit you receive on your own, Social Security will pay you the higher of the two amounts, not the two combined. However, survivor benefits, unlike spousal benefits, dont have to be claimed at the same time as your own retirement benefits. You can, in many cases, receive one benefit for a time and then file for the other one later. This is a common strategy for widows to take to maximize their benefits.

Did you Know?

The earliest a widow or widower can apply for survivor benefits is age 60 .

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What Will Happen To My Deceased Spouse’s Benefits If I Amcollecting Social Security Benefits Of My Own

Spousal benefits end when anindividual passes away and survivor benefits start. If you have been receiving benefits for yourspouses work, Social Security will change your benefits over to survivorbenefits once the death of the spouse has been reported.

You have the option tostop this switch by contacting the Social Security administration. If you are under full retirement age, theoption to stop the switch enables you to wait until full retirement age tostart the survivor benefit, eliminating a reduction in survivor benefits fortaking them early.

If youre also gettingbenefits based on your own work, Social Security will see whether or not youcan receive more money as a widow/widower if this is the case, Social Securitywill begin sending you a combination of benefits that is the highest amount possible.

You may also stop the switch to survivors benefits and start them later whenyou become full retirement age. You willcontinue to receive benefits from you own work record.

If you are not receivingspousal benefits in the month of passing, an application is required to switchyour Social Security payments over to survivor benefits. You may be required to provide proof of a spouse’s passing and a marriagecertificate.

What Are You Going To Do About Being Shortchanged

Now that you know the government wants you to die by age 62 and stay single, what are you going to do about it? There are only about two workers supporting one Social Security beneficiary now vs close to five workers for every one beneficiary back in the 1950s. By the year 2033, the Social Security fund will only have enough to pay out 75% of what the program promised. Clearly, all of us will pay more into the system than we will receive.

Solution #1:Go Galt and work less, so you can pay less taxes. Even better if you can stop making W2 income altogether and just have passive income. We know the Government is incredibly inefficient with handling our money. The people who are getting short changed the most are the ones who make around $114,000 a year in regular wages but not much more. They are the ones who are getting taxed on their entire income, while likely getting the least benefits vis a vis what they put in.

The people who are getting the most benefit are the ones who make less than $50,000 a year or make much more than $113,700 a year. Mathematically, you get the biggest bang for your Social Security contribution buck if you earn around $50,000 or less. Meanwhile, if you make so much more than $113,700 a year, Social Security tax as a percentage of your overall income drops to minute levels. The wealthy dont really care about Social Security. Any money that does come during retirement is just a bonus.

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What Happens To My Social Security If I Die Before Retirement

    As long as you remain alive, you continue drawing benefits based on your work record and how much youve earned over your lifetime. When you die, the benefits cease there is no accrued balance that is paid out to your estate or to your survivors. Social Security does not pay benefits for the month of your death.

    Does Social Security Pay For Funeral Expenses

    What Happens to Your Social Security When You Die?

    Social Security offers recipients a lump-sum death benefit. As of 2018, the benefit amount is $255. Although a spouse may choose to apply the payment towards funeral costs, the benefit cannot be paid to funeral homes or estates for funeral expenses. If there is no qualifying recipient, the benefit is not paid.

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    Calculating Social Benefits Survivor

    Social Security survivor benefits aren’t always calculated the same way that retirement benefits are calculated. There are provisions in place for an alternate calculation if you die early.

    Social Security benefits are calculated in three basic steps, and it is really important to understand them if you want to get all you can out of Social Security even as a survivor. The 3 steps are adjusting historical earnings for inflation, getting the monthly average from the highest 35 years, and applying the monthly average to the benefits formula.

    But what happens if you die before you have worked 35 years or just 20 years? And are survivor benefits always calculated the same way as retirement benefits?

    With retirement benefit, 35 years are used in the calculation regardless of if you have worked for that long or not. So if you have only worked for 20 years there is going to be an extra 15 years of zeroes included in your benefits calculation.

    However, in the case of death, there is an alternate calculation that differs from the normal calculation in two key areas. Instead of using the highest 35 years, the SSA will take the number of years between the attainment of your age 22 through the year of death and subtract the least 5. What is left is then divided by the number of months in those years.

    Since there are 168 months in 14 years, that would be the averaged index monthly earnings that would then be applied against the benefits formula that was in effect for the year of death.

    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.

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    What Are Survivor Social Benefits

    Anytime a spouse passes away, it throws our life into a bit of chaos, because we have to recalibrate and figure out who we are, what is happening in life, and of course, that financial component, figuring out where our income is coming from and where our expenses are going.

    Social Security becomes a big component for people’s retirement income and as a surviving spouse, it could be that you are eligible today for some income right away or it might be at some point in the future. If you are under the age of 60, you will not be eligible for benefits unless you have children or a dependent in the home that is relying on you for income.

    The first most critical piece of information that you can get from the Social Security Administration is the spreadsheet where they break down your survivor benefit, starting at age 60 and every single month after that, all the way until your full retirement age, which might be between age 66 or 67, depending on how old you are.

    Once you have that document, you can go to a Social Security expert or a financial planner and have them layout side by side what your benefit options are.

    Can A Surviving Spouse Keep The Last Benefit Check

    What happens to my Social Security if my spouse passes away?

    One question survivors often ask is whether they can keep the Social Security payment for the month in which the beneficiary died. For example, if the beneficiary died in July, must the payment for July be returned, or can it be kept?

    Unfortunately, the answer is nothe benefit must be refunded to the SSA. If the benefit payment comes in the form of a check, it should be returned to the SSA. Never cash a Social Security benefit check for a deceased beneficiary!

    If the benefit is paid in the form of a direct deposit to the beneficiarys bank account, it is important that the executor of the estate notify the bank and request that it be returned. Should the SSA gets wind that something hinky might be happening, it will open a fraud investigation because keeping a deceased beneficiarys Social Security payments is a federal crime.

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