Earnings Limit On Survivor Benefits
If you file for any Social Security retirement benefit before your full retirement age, there is a limit to how much you can earn. The fact that this also applies to survivor benefits will often catch individuals by surprise.
If you are under full retirement age you are limited to $19,560 in wages or net earnings from self employment. If you exceed that limit, your benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you go over. The one exception is the calendar year you turn full retirement age. For that period, your limit is a much higher $51,960. The amount theyll reduce your benefit by is more generous as well.
Once you are full retirement age, there is no limit to the amount you can earn while drawing Social Security. You can read my article on the Social Security earnings limit or watch my video.
NOTE: Although the SSA uses a slightly different table for determining FRA for survivor benefits, the earnings limit is always tied to FRA for retirement benefits.
Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby
The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.
Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:
- Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
- Open a bank account in their name
- Get medical coverage for them
- Apply for government services for them
Surviving Spouses Of Ssdi Recipients
If your spouse who was receiving SSDI benefits dies, you may be eligible to receive widow’s or widower’s benefits, if your spouse was “currently insured” before becoming disabled.
You can be eligible for benefits as a widow in several different ways. Depending on your category of eligibility, you’ll be eligible to collect a certain percentage of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.
Here are the categories along with the percentage of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit you can receive.
- You care for a child under the age of 16 years old who receives survivors SSDI benefits from your deceased spouse.
- You will receive 75% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.
Here are some interesting twists on the surviving spouse benefit.
Remarriage. If you remarry before the age of 60 years old, you can’t receive benefits as a surviving spouse. If you get remarried after you reach the age of 60 years old, or 50 years old if you are disabled, your SSDI benefits will not be affected.
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What Is The Difference Between Spousal Benefits And Survivor Benefits
The main difference between spousal benefits and survivor benefits is when they are applied. Spousal benefits can be claimed while your spouse is still alive and are determined as a portion of their current social security benefit. Survivor benefits only apply once the social security beneficiary is deceased. Spousal benefits are also typically much lower when compared to survivor benefits spousal benefits can be a maximum of 50 percent of the beneficiarys social security.
While they are commonly mistaken for one another, these benefits have different eligibility requirements and are used at different times. The marriage requirement for spousal benefits is 12 months, instead of the 9 month requirement associated with survivor benefits. That being said, one interesting similarity is that you may be eligible for spousal or survivor benefits once divorced as long as you were married for at least 10 years and are currently unmarried.
How To Return Social Security Payments After The Death Of A Beneficiary
When a Social Security beneficiary dies, Social Security must be notified immediately to stop further benefits payments. Usually, if the death is not reported, Social Security will continue sending the monthly benefits either as a check or direct deposit. Failing to report the death of a beneficiary is a federal crime, and you could be locked out of survivor benefits.
If Social Security makes a payment for the month of the beneficiary’s death, you should not spend the money. If you received the payment in check form, you should return it to the Social Security address immediately. If the beneficiary received monthly payments via direct bank deposits, you should ask the bank to return the funds to Social Security.
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Where Does Social Security Send The Deceased Beneficiarys Statement
When you request a Social Security statement for a deceased beneficiary, Social Security sends the statement to the beneficiary’s last known address that Social Security has on the Master Beneficiary Record .
However, Social Security will check its records to determine if the beneficiaryâs address changed in the last 30 days. If there was such a change, you will be required to verify your relationship with the deceased. SSA requires that you must be a surviving spouse, child, or parent on the same record as the deceased to request a Social Security statement on behalf of the deceased beneficiary.
Is A Child Eligible For The Lump Sum Death Payment
In addition to a monthly payout, the child may be able to receive a lump sum death payment. The death benefit is a one-time deposit of $255, usually paid to the surviving spouse. When there is no eligible spouse, the child or children of the deceased may qualify for the benefit as long as they apply within two years of the parent’s death.
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What Happens If The Deceased Has Multiple Children
When a deceased parent has multiple children, the amount each child receives depends on the total amount paid to all eligible family members.
Survivor benefits get split among beneficiaries. Because each beneficiary is eligible for a predetermined percentage of the deceased parent’s retirement, a family payout canand often times doesexceed what the parent would have received at their normal retirement age. This can be considered an added perk of the program.
However, there is a limit to what a family can receive. In most cases, the maximum is between 150% to 180% of the full retirement amount. Once the family reaches the limit, the SSA decreases payments for each beneficiary proportionately.
The more beneficiaries there are, the likelier the family is to approach the maximum. If this is the case for you, consider speaking with your local SSA representative for a better estimate of each child’s potential monthly payment.
Were There To Help If Disability Strikes
As a working parent, your earnings can become a source of Social Security protection for your family. If you retire or become disabled and unable to work, your earnings would be partially replaced by your monthly Social Security benefit payments.
A child who is disabled may depend on your help for a lifetime. When you start receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, your family members also may be eligible for payments. If you are a parent, caregiver, or representative of a child younger than age 18 who has a disability, your child may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income payments. More information is provided in the booklet.
For children 18 years or older who have been disabled before the age of 22 and continue to be disabled, Social Security benefits may be paid to them if you retire, become disabled, or die. Social Security benefits for disabled children may continue as long as they are unable to work because of their disability.
Additionally, you can find information on the specific benefits and qualifications in the publication.
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How To Enroll For Ssi Benefits
Another step that parents of a disabled adult child may be able to take to ensure their child receives benefits is to get them into the Social Security benefits system while the parents are alive. They may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income on the disabled childs behalf. SSI is a monthly payment designed to help needy families, including families raising a child with a disability.
SSI payments are made until the child is 18. After age 18, the disabled child becomes eligible for SSDI benefits as a disabled adult child. Upon the death of the parent, they become eligible for the survivors benefit described above.
If the parent is already on Social Security retirement or disability benefits themselves, they can have their disabled adult child added onto their account as an auxiliary while they are still living. This is by far the most streamlined process for receiving Social Security benefits.
Documents To File A Social Security Survivor Claim
The Social Security claims process may require the following documents. While each document may not be required, it is easier to come prepared than to have to make several trips or follow-up appointments.
- Proof of deatheither from a funeral home or death certificate
- Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased workers
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower
- Dependent childrens Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates
- The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.
If you dont have all the documents you need, start the claims process anyway. In many cases, your local Social Security office can contact your state Bureau of Vital Statistics and verify your information online at no cost to you. If they cant verify your information online, they have other ways to help you get the information you need.
Questions? If you still have questions, you could leave a comment below, but what may be an even greater help is to join my . Its very active and has some really smart people who love to answer any questions you may have about Social Security. From time to time Ill even drop in to add my thoughts, too. Alsoif you havent already, you should join the 100,000+ subscribers on my YouTube channel!
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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 age 60 , you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married.
- If you remarry after 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 allow the other benefit amount to increase.
- 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.
Maximum Family Amount For Survivors Benefits
Social Security puts a limit on how much a family can receive based on their deceased relative’s Social Security benefits. Generally, a family cannot receive more than 150-180% of the total amount of the deceased’s Social Security benefit. If the percentage of awarded benefits would be higher than that percentage, each family member’s percentage would be reduced proportionally until the total awarded amount meets the percentage limit.
Note that benefits paid to surviving divorced spouses don’t count toward the maximum family benefit.
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How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
Those who are currently retired
People with disabilities
The surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits the Social Security Administration offers.
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits
Lump Sum Death Benefit
First, lets deal with the one-time payment formerly called a funeral benefit. Upon the death of a Social Security beneficiary, the Social Security Administration pays a lump-sum death payment of $255. Needless to say, the $255 one time payment doesnt quite cover the cost of a funeral. Its been stuck at that level for several years and inflation has significantly eroded its useful value.
There are three categories of people who may receive the death payment:
If there are no eligible survivors in either of these three categories, then no death benefit is paid.
Even though $255 isnt a lot, who wants to pass on money thats rightfully theirs? If the eligible spouse or child is not receiving benefits at the time of death, they must apply for benefits within two years in order to receive the death payment.
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How Much Will An Adult Child Receive
After the parent dies, the benefit to disabled adult children will be based on the amount the parent paid into the SSA while they were alive and working. You can estimate this amount by looking at your My Social Security account on SSA.gov. Your survivor would be eligible for 75% of the primary insurance amount on your account. Your PIA adjusts any year there is a cost-of-living adjustment or you have wages, so check back every year.
Who Is Eligible For Social Security Survivor Benefits
The child of a deceased biological parent or legal guardian can receive survivor benefits if they’re under the age of 18 . In most cases, these benefits end once the child becomes an adult. Under certain circumstancesstepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren and adopted children may also qualify for survivor benefits.
Additionally, adult children with a can receive survivor benefits for life or until they marry.
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How To Receive Federal Benefits
To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Call the Go Direct Helpline at .
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at .
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
On Go Direct’s FAQ page, learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
What Benefits Are My Beneficiaries Eligible For After My Death
The Social Security payment you receive your benefit for the previous month. For example, the payment you receive in February is your January benefit.
To earn your benefit, you must live the entire month. In other words, you are not eligible for a benefit in the month you die. If you die on the first day of the month or the last day you will not be eligible for a benefit for that particular month. If you die April 1 you would receive your March benefit later in April and you would be able to keep it. There could be situations where you would receive a benefit for the month you pass but that benefit would have to be returned to the Social Security Administration.
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Minor Or Child With A Disability
If you are the unmarried child under age 18 of a worker who dies, you can be eligible to receive Social Security survivors benefits. You can also be eligible, if you are up to age 19 and attending elementary or secondary school full time.
Besides the worker’s natural children, their stepchildren, grandchildren, step grandchildren, or adopted children may receive benefits under certain circumstances.
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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