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Tag Title: What Happens to Social Security Spousal Benefits after a Death?
Article Category: Family & Caregiver
META Description: Social Security spousal benefits can be hard to understand, and the complexity increases after a spouse dies. Here’s what to know about survivor benefits.
Social Security spousal benefits provide additional retirement income to married couples when one spouse is the sole, or primary, earner. Many retired couples rely heavily on these benefits to sustain their lifestyle, or at least prevent them from falling into poverty. But what happens to these benefits when the spouse receiving them passes away?
This common question among families usually arises after an earning spouse becomes ill. The healthy partner gets anxious about their financial stability if their spouse doesn’t recover. Here are a few things married couples should know about Social Security spousal benefits in the event of a death.
Common Questions about Spousal Benefits
- What happens to spousal benefits after a death?
If you receive monthly spousal benefits, you collect them in addition to the benefits your spouse earns. If your spouse passes away, you forgo your spousal benefits and switch to survivor benefits.
- What are survivor benefits?
Survivor benefits are monthly Social Security payments made to the family members of a wage earner who has died.
- Who is entitled to Social Security survivor benefits?
Many family members may be entitled to receive survivor benefits, including:
- A widow or widower who is at least 60 years old.
- A widow or widower who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under 16 years old.
- An unmarried child of the deceased who is under 18 years old (older if they have a disability).
There are a few exceptions that allow families to collect earlier, and other circumstances may qualify additional family members.
- What is the survivor benefit amount?
Survivor benefits are based on the wages the person who died earned. The more your spouse paid into Social Security, the higher your benefits will be.
Your monthly benefit amount also depends on your age and the type of benefit you receive. If you collect benefits when you are at your retirement age, you may be eligible to acquire 100 percent of your deceased spouse’s benefits.
It is important to note that if the deceased spouse received reduced benefits, then survivor benefits will be based on that amount.
- When can you start receiving survivor benefits?
If your spouse qualified for Social Security benefits, you could start receiving partial benefits when you turn 60 years old (50 if you are disabled). To obtain the full benefit, you must wait until you reach your full retirement age.
Randall Residence Encourages Financial Planning
Understanding Social Security benefits can be challenging, especially when it forces families to consider the death of a loved one. But lack of knowledge can prevent them from maximizing their benefits.
At Randall Residence, we always recommend seeking advice from a financial planner who specializes in spousal and survivor Social Security benefits. They can advise you and your family about preparing financially for the future.