Chapter : How To Apply For Survivor Benefits
A widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse cannot apply online for survivors benefits. You must call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 Alternatively, you can go in person to your local Social Security field office.
To apply for Social Security survivor benefits, you must have the following documents:
- Both your own Social Security number and that of the deceased worker
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate
- Your divorce certificate
- Dependent childrens Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates
Did you Know?
Unlike other Social Security benefits, you cannot apply for survivors benefits online. You must call the SSA or go in person to your local Social Security field office.
Applying and ensuring you claim the right benefit at the right time for your personal finances can be confusing. When youre ready to apply, we recommend using a checklist to ensure you take the right steps and have the right documentation.
Can You Collect Social Security For You And Your Spouse At The Same Time
Yes, but you need to be strategic about how you do it.
Most Americans will eventually be eligible for Social Security, and therefore many strategize how best to strategize how to maximize their benefits.
If both members of a married couple are eligible for Social Security, they are advisedto take into account what age they will begin collecting Social Security, and how to maximize that.
Spousal benefits are generally available to those who are married to someone receiving Social Security checks. Theyre particularly helpful for those who either arent eligible for their own benefits or are receiving very little from Social Security, The Motley Fool wrote earlier this year.
You can begin collecting benefits at sixty-two years old or any age thereafter, but the age you file will directly affect the size of your monthly payments, that The Motley Fool expert said. The only way to receive the entire benefit amount youre entitled to is to claim at your FRAwhich is either age sixty-six, sixty-seven, or somewhere in between depending on the year you were born.
My wife is four years older than me and she started collecting her full retirement benefit from Social Security at 66. I am still working. I plan on waiting until 70 to start my benefits. How do I, or can I, collect both benefits? the correspondent asked.
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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Your Spouse Can’t Claim Spousal Benefits Unless You’ve Started Yours
When you’re married, you have the choice of claiming either your own retirement benefits or getting spousal benefits.
Spousal benefits are based on your partner’s work history, and equal up to 50% of your partner’s primary insurance amount . There’s just one problem: They won’t become available until the primary earner whose work record spousal benefits are based on has claimed their own retirement benefits. In other words, if a husband wants to claim spousal benefits based on his wife’s earning history, his wife would have to start her retirement benefits first, or vice versa.
Sometimes, it still makes sense for the higher earner to put off a benefits claim, even if that means spousal benefits can’t be started. After all, as mentioned above, waiting would increase survivor benefits. But in other circumstances, the higher earner may want to start checks ASAP to make spousal benefits available.
This could make sense, for example, when one spouse didn’t work enough to get any retirement benefits at all. In this circumstance, the couple would have no Social Security checks coming in until the higher earner claimed — but once that happened, two checks could start coming.
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A Couple With Similar Incomes And Ages And Long Life Expectancies May Maximize Lifetime Benefits If Both Delay
How it works: The basic principle is that the longer you defer your benefits, the larger the monthly benefits grow. Each year you delay Social Security from age 62 to 70 could increase your benefit by up to 8%.
Who it may benefit: This strategy works best for couples with normal to high life expectancies with similar earnings, who are planning to work until age 70 or have sufficient savings to provide any needed income during the deferral period.
Example: Willard’s life expectancy is 88, and his income is $75,000. Helena’s life expectancy is 90, and her income is $70,000. They enjoy working.
Suppose Willard and Helena both claim at age 62. As a couple, they would receive a lifetime benefit of $1,100,000. But if they live to be ages 88 and 90, respectively, deferring to age 70 would mean about $260,000 in additional benefits.
Can Both Spouses Get Social Security Disability At The Same Time
In general, both spouses can get Social Security Disability at the same time. However, because each disability benefits program has its own qualifications, some programs make this much easier than others.
It is possible for couples to both draw Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits, providing they otherwise meet each programs requirements.
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What Are The Different Types Of Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Administration offers three main types of benefits. Two of them are for people who become disabled before they reach retirement age. The third is the standard retirement benefit that everyone with enough work history may receive.
Social Security Disability Insurance is a disability program for workers who become disabled. It receives its funding from the payroll taxes. Thus, only people who have earned enough work credits and paid taxes into the system are eligible to receive benefits under this program.
Supplemental Security Insurance is also for disabled people, but rather than being an insurance program like SSDI, it is a welfare program for the needy. You do not need a work history to be eligible. However, the program has strict income requirements. If you earn too much money or have too many assets, you cannot receive SSI.
Retirement is available regardless of disability status. This program only has two requirements. You must be at least 62 years old, though you can earn a bigger monthly check the longer you wait to start receiving benefits up to age 70. The second requirement is that the recipient has a work history. The more you have earned in your lifetime and the more you have paid in payroll taxes, the higher your benefit amount.
What Is The Social Security Spousal Benefit
The SSA allows the spouse of a beneficiary to claim partial benefits when their spouse begins to receive their benefits. The spouse claiming the partial benefits must be at least sixty-two years of age or be in the care of a disabled child or one younger than sixteen.
The total amount received in Social Security for a worker is known as their Primary Insurance Amount . The SSA will use the PIA to calculate the benefit a spouse is entitled to.
The “primary insurance amount” is the benefit a person would receive if he/she elects to begin receiving retirement benefits at his/her normal retirement age. At this age, the benefit is neither reduced for early retirement nor increased for delayed retirement.
Source: Social Security Adminstration
Sixty-two is the youngest age spousal benefits can be claimed but there are penalties for not waiting until the spouse is sixty-five or older. At sixty-two, the SSA could give the spouse as little as 32.5 percent of the worker’s primary insurance amount.
A formula based on the number of months before retirement age a spouse is attempting to claim benefits is used to calculate the total amount that will be received. The formula begins by cutting the PIA in half. Then, the SSA states that the spousal benefit is reduced 25/36 of one percent for each month before normal retirement age, up to 36 months. Should the number exceed thirty-six months, the benefit will be further reduced 5/12 of one percent per month.
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Your Decision To Claim Benefits Early Could Affect Survivor Benefits
In most cases, married senior couples have two Social Security checks coming into the household. Each partner gets their own check. But when one person dies, his or her payments cease. This can lead to a big reduction in total household income.
The good news, however, is that the remaining spouse is entitled to survivor benefits. As a result, they get to keep the larger of the two payments either person was receiving. If the lower earning spouse is getting a $1,500 retirement benefit and the higher earner is receiving $1,800, the last surviving spouse would be able to continue receiving the $1,800 after their partner’s death.
Unfortunately, if the higher earner has made a decision — like claiming benefits early — that shrinks their Social Security check, survivor benefits are also reduced. This could have a devastating impact on the widow left behind. As a result, it’s crucial to consider how your partner will fare if you were the spouse who earned more over your career. If you decide to start getting Social Security checks ASAP rather than waiting as long as possible to maximize survivor benefits, this could create serious financial hardship if you pass away first.
Social Security Strategies For Spouses
Working as a team, spouses have some choices that can significantly boost their combined benefit.
A warning, though: These types of strategies can get very complex, and their effectiveness depends on a number of variables, including the difference in ages and earnings records between the two spouses.
With the first strategy, sometimes called the 62/70 split, the lower-earning spouse takes Social Security as early as age 62 and the higher-earning spouse postpones filing until age 70 to maximize his or her benefit. With this scenario, the higher earner has the option of receiving a spousal benefit as a bonus during the years that he or she is waiting to claim on his or her own record.
Alternatively, the higher earner could file for benefits at FRA and immediately suspend them. This strategy, known as file and suspend, allows the lower earner to collect a spousal benefit based on the higher earners record, potentially getting more than they receive on their own, while the higher earners benefits continue to grow. The higher earner then collects once their benefit has maxed out. A few notes on file and suspend:
Talk to an Expert: If youre married and want to maximize your joint Social Security benefits, I highly recommend that you consult with a financial advisor who has in-depth knowledge of the Social Security system.
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Can Both Spouses Get Social Security Retirement Checks
When deciding when to retire, combine your own and your spouse’s SSA benefits.
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Your Social Security benefit at retirement is based on your years of work and earnings, and an individual must generally have 40 credits or four quarters of earnings over 10 years to qualify. However, a nonworking spouse can receive benefits based on a working spouse’s earnings. Whether you and your spouse take benefits based on each of your own earnings, or one spouse takes benefits based on the other spouse’s earnings, both spouses can most definitely receive Social Security checks at the same time.
At What Age Can I Collect 1/2 Of My Husband’s Social Security
You can claim spousal benefits as early as age 62, but you won’t receive as much as if you wait until your own full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you choose to claim spousal benefits at 62, you’d receive a benefit that’s equal to 32.5% of your spouse’s full benefit amount.
Both Spouses Claim Social Security Benefits Before Full Retirement Age
Bottom line: This option may be most appropriate if you need the income immediately, such as if you’re facing health challenges, despite the reduced benefit.
If you need the cash flow that Social Security income provides immediately following retirement, it may be the best option for you to claim before full retirement age .
Additionally, if one or both of you are suffering from chronic health problems and may not live long enough to justify waiting, claiming as soon as you are able may be a great help even knowing that benefits will not be paid at 100%.
Can I Collect My Ex Husband’s Social Security If He Is Remarried
Can I collect Social Security as a divorced spouse if my ex-spouse remarries? Yes. … Your status as a partner in that unit stands, whether or not your ex-husband or ex-wife marries again. However, if you remarry and become part of a new marital unit, your eligibility for benefits based on the previous unit ends.
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How Can Both Spouses Collect Social Security
Over 65 million Americans receive benefits through Social Security. While most people pay into Social Security over the course of their career to receive benefits, some people often wonder whether a spouse can also receive Social Security. The rules and benefit amounts vary based on whether a spouse has worked and built enough credits to receive benefits.
Here’s what you need to know about Social Security spousal benefits, when to apply for them, how Social Security determines your benefit amount and how you can maximize these benefits.
Can One Spouse Delay Retirement Benefits While The Other Spouse Collects Benefits
For most couples now reaching retirement age, both husband and wife, or both spouses, have earned some Social Security retirement benefits on their own earnings records. That means that each spouse can claim dependents benefits based on the other spouse’s work record, as well as survivors benefits based on the work record of the spouse who dies first.
Any time after each spouse reaches age 62, that spouse can claim retirement benefits. If one spouse claims retirement benefits, the other spouse may want to delay claiming their own retirement benefit, to let it grow. Sometimes couples can withdraw money from other retirement accounts, like IRAs and 401s, to be able to delay collecting their Social Security benefit until age 70.
In the past, once reaching full retirement age, a spouse could claim their spousal retirement benefits without claiming their own retirement benefit. This was called “filing a restricted application.” But now that option is only available to people who were at least 68 at the end of 2021. Anyone younger doesn’t have to opportunity to file a restricted application.
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Who Is Entitled To Survivors Benefits From Social Security
How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies SSA.gov/benefits/survivors
Social Security is a key source of financial security to widowed spouses. About 7.8 million individuals aged 60 and older receive Social Security benefits based, at least in part, on a deceased spouses work record. These surviving spouse beneficiaries are overwhelmingly women.
These beneficiaries include 3.6 million people who are eligible only as widowed spouses. Another 4.2 million who are entitled to benefits based on their own work records but whose deceased spouses benefit amounts were higher than their own, will receive higher benefits as individuals .
How Do Divorce And Remarriage Affect Social Security Benefits
It is common knowledge that husbands and wives are entitled to collect Social Security benefits on their spouses work records. Less well known is that this benefit applies to divorced spouses as long as the spouse has not remarried. Divorced spouses are even entitled to survivor benefits in certain circumstances.
As a spouse, you have the option of claiming a Social Security retirement benefit based on your own earnings record or collecting a spousal benefit equal to half of your spouses Social Security benefit. You are automatically entitled to whichever benefit is higher, and you can collect on your spouses record even if you have never worked yourself.
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As a divorced spouse, you can collect benefits on your ex-spouses record, even if the ex-spouse has remarried and even if the ex-spouses new spouse is collecting on the same record.
Meeting the Criteria
But to get this benefit, you must meet the following requirements:
If your ex-spouse has not yet applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on their record provided you have been divorced for at least two years.
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