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Social Security Survivor Benefits Upon Spouses Death – Q & A

Jan. 23, 2020

My husband passed away two months ago at age 68. I am 60 and work part-time as a real estate agent. I would like to know whether I am eligible to receive my husband’s social security benefits. My husband had both life insurance and a monthly pension from his work. How do I find out if I am entitled to my husband’s monthly social security benefits?

How do I get the application process started?

The first step is to promptly inform Social Security that your husband passed. It is custom and practice for the funeral director to report the death to Social Security, which is why you will need to provide them with your husband’s Social Security number.

Do I qualify For My Husbands Benefits?

That depends. Assuming your husband worked long enough you will likely be able to qualify for receiving some portion of your husbands Social Security payment.

In addition Social Security will award you, as the surviving spouse, a one-time payment of $255 so long as you were cohabitating with your husband at the time of death.

The earliest a widow or widower can start receiving Social Security survivor’s benefits based on age will remain at age 60.

What If We Were Not Living Together?

If you were living apart, because you were separated for example, but you were still receiving Social Security benefits under social security number, then you will be eligible to receive the one-time $250 payment.

Am I Eligible To Receive My Husbands Monthly Social Security Benefits?

In order to receive part or all of your deceased spouses monthly benefits you must fall under one of the following categories. You must be:

A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);

A widow or widower at any age that was caring for the deceased’s child who was under the age of 16 upon the date of death or if the child was disabled;

An unmarried child of the deceased who is:

Younger than age 18, or up to age 19, if the child is a full-time student attending elementary or a secondary school, or is 18 or older and suffers from a disability that began before the child reached the age of 22;

A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, or an adopted child so long as the deceased was age 62 or older and the adopted child was dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support.

I have received two of my husband’s monthly social security benefits since his passing and deposited them into our joint bank account. Am I entitled to keep this money?

No. If your husband was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit unless it was received for the month prior to your husband’s death. For example, if your husband died in August, you must return the benefit check paid in September and every benefit payment made thereafter.

What happens if I start receiving my survivor benefit and later I end up qualifying for social security benefits that’s more than my survivor’s benefit?

Under current social security rules, if you are receiving widow’s benefits and later qualify for retirement benefits that’s more than your survivor’s benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62 or as late as age 70.

Irrespective of my survivor’s benefits, what if I wait until the age of 62 before I begin to receive my own social security retirement benefits – how much can I expect in monthly benefits based on my own work history?

Here is how is works assuming your full retirement age is 67. If you start your retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit amount is reduced by about 30 percent.

The reduction for starting benefits at age:

63 is about 25 percent;

64 is about 20 percent;

65 is about 13.3 percent; and

66 is about 6.7 percent.

For more specific information concerning your retirement age see the Social Security Retirement Age Calculator.