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How To File For Social Security Death Benefits

Survivors Benefits If You Are Divorced

Social Security Survivor Benefits: Claiming based on a deceased spouse or ex-spouse

An ex-spouse is eligible to receive the same benefits as a current spouse if they were married to the deceased worker for at least 10 years and are not currently married. However, if the living ex-spouse remarries before age 60, they forfeit their right to their deceased former spouses Social Securityunless that subsequent marriage ended in death, divorce, or annulment. If the living ex-spouse remarries after age 60, this rule doesnt apply.

How much a spouse or former spouse receives depends on several factors including when they file for benefits and whether they are still working and earning money.

What About My Ex

Spousal benefits for divorced spouses are affected by the Bipartisan Budget Act, too. Previously, divorced spouses who were married for 10 years or more could claim reduced auxiliary benefits from their exs record when they reached age 62, or full auxiliary benefits when they reached full retirement age, all while letting their own benefits grow. Thats no longer the case as of April 30, 2016.

If youre divorced and you turn 62 on or before January 1, 2016, you can still file a Restricted Application and receive your divorced spousal benefits, waiting until age 70 to claim your primary retirement benefits. But those who arent in that age group will no longer be able to claim spousal benefits without claiming their primary benefits. Like still-married spouses, ex-spouses will be assumed to be claiming all their benefits when they first file.

Note that a divorced spouse married for 10 years or more can claim full auxiliary benefits on their exs record at any age if he or she is caring for the dependent minor child of the ex-spouse.

Also, the divorced spousal benefit for people whose ex-spouses are still alive is lower than the divorced widows benefit.

If you remarry, it doesnt keep your ex from being eligible to claim benefits on your record. But having an ex who is claiming benefits on your record wont keep your new spouse from being able to claim benefits either.

How Do You Apply For The Social Security Death Benefit

You can apply for the Social Security death benefit by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by vising a Social Security office. You’ll need to provide documentation, including a birth certificate, proof of citizenship if you were born outside the U.S., military discharge papers if you served before 1968, last year’s W-2s, and a death certificate for the deceased person.

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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

How To Get A Social Security Card

Social Security Survivor Benefits: The Complete Guide
  • Gather your documents. Learn what documents you’ll need to get a card. Select your situation:
  • Original, replacement, or corrected card
  • U.S. born citizen, foreign-born U.S. citizen, or noncitizen
  • Apply online for a replacement card. Apply online if youre not changing anything on your card and you are eligible. This option is available in most states. You will need to make a my Social Security account first. Or complete an application. If you can not apply online, fill out an application and return it to the SSA. Find out where to take it in person or mail it.
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    How Long Do You Receive Social Security Survivor Benefits

    Social Security survivor benefits are payable to the surviving spouse for the remainder of their life. Restrictions apply for divorced spouses eligible to receive benefits.

    Benefits for surviving children end at age 18 or age 19 if still pursuing their elementary or secondary education. For surviving children who became disabled before age 22, their benefits continue for life.

    Eligibility For Survivors Benefits

    If you are the widow or widower of the deceased, you may be eligible for survivors benefits under a variety of different circumstances. You can receive full benefits, for instance, when you reach your full survivor retirement age. This is between 65 and 67, depending on your birth year.

    At 60, you can receive partial survivors benefits, and at 50, you can receive full benefits if you are disabled, and have been for at least seven years before the workers death.

    You can receive full benefits at any age if you care for the workers children, who must be under 16 or disabled themselves. Also note that if you remarry after age 60, or 50 if you are disabled, the marriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits from your deceased spouse.

    If you divorced the worker before their death, you are still eligible for survivors benefits under the same rules as a widow or widower, as long as you were married to the worker for ten years or more.

    For a workers child to qualify for survivors benefits, they must be unmarried and under 18 years old, or 19 if in secondary school. If the child became disabled before age 22 and is still disabled, they are eligible for benefits no matter what their age. Stepchildren, adopted children, and grandchildren may also be eligible for survivors benefits if they meet certain criteria.

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    How Do You Qualify For Widow’s Benefits

    • Be at least age 60.
    • Be the widow or widower of a fully insured worker.
    • Meet the marriage duration requirement.
    • Be unmarried, unless the marriage can be disregarded.
    • Not be entitled to an equal or higher Social Security retirement benefit based on your own work.

    Whats The Family Maximum Benefit

    Social Security Survivor Benefits 101 – How It Works

    The point of the Family Maximum Benefit is to keep family members who are living together from all claiming full auxiliary benefits from the same record. Social Security is pretty strapped for cash, and doesnt want too many people to claim benefits from the record of only one person who paid into the system.

    Take the case of a family of four, with one retired worker, one spouse and two minor children. If you added up the benefits, the retired worker would get 100%, the spouse would be eligible for 50% of the workers benefits and each child would be eligible for 50% as well. Because of the FMB, though, this family wont be able to claim all of those benefits. Instead, the spouse and childrens auxiliary benefits will be adjusted to make sure they fall below a certain percentage of the retired workers benefits.

    A wage earners personal maximum benefits + the maximum auxiliary benefits for all eligible family members = the Family Maximum Benefit. This maximum is computed as a percentage of the workers maximum primary benefit, and ranges between 150% and 187% of those benefits.

    Families with the lowest incomes fall under the 150% rule, meaning that the family can only claim a maximum of 150% of a workers Primary Insurance Amount . Meanwhile, middle-income families can claim up to 187% of benefits, and the highest-earning families can claim up to 175%. Yes, you read that correctly.

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    What Questions Will They Ask You

    Some of the questions applicants will be asked for are: name and social security number as well as those of the deceased worker, children and any other former spouses. Illnesses or conditions 14 months prior to the deceased death, the amount of money he or she earned in his last year of life will also be questions for family members.

    To learn all of the questions you will be asked visit the SSA official website.


    How Much Do Widowed Spouses Receive

    Social Security survivors benefits are especially important to women , because wives tend to earn less than their husbands, and they also typically outlive their husbands. When a retired worker dies, the surviving spouse receives a benefit equal to the deceased workers full retirement benefit.

    Depending on the widows or widowers circumstances, however, this benefit may substantially reduce her monthly household income because only one Social Security benefit is now arriving , not the two benefits that the couple received before the spouses death. Women who had worked and earned their own Social Security benefits, in particular, may find themselves struggling to meet the rising fixed expenses that come with aging.

    For more information on Social Security and survivor benefits, please visit the Social Security Administration at ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/.

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    How Does Pension Insurance Work In Germany

    As an important part of the social security system, German pension insurance is represented throughout Germany. The pension insurance office advises on pension and retirement provision issues, pays a pension in the event of reduced earning capacity or in old age and also offers various benefits during working life.

    How Is Social Security Taxed

    What To Do When Spouse Dies Social Security

    Social Security benefits can be taxed. If you file as an individual and your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may be taxed on up to 50% of your benefits. If it’s more than $34,000, you may be taxed on up to 85% of your benefits. For married couples filing jointly, if your income is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay taxes on up to 50% of your benefits. If your income is over $44,000, you may be taxed on up to 85% of your benefits.

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    If You Are The Survivor

    Just as you plan for your family’s protection if you die, you should consider the Social Security benefits that may be available if you are the survivor that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. That person must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.

    How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits

    A worker can earn up to four credits each year. In 2022, for example, your spouse can earn one credit for each $1,510 of wages or self-employment income. When your spouse has earned $6,040 they have earned their four credits for the year.

    The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when they die. No one needs more than 40 credits to be eligible for any Social Security benefit. But, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they must have for family members to receive survivors benefits.

    Some survivors can get benefits if the worker has credit for one and one-half years of work in the three years just before their death. Each persons situation is different and you need to talk to one of our claims representatives about your choices.

    Beware The Blackout Period

    As noted earlier, a widow or widower generally doesn’t qualify for their benefits until age 60. However, that person can collect payouts as the caregiver for the deceased’s children until they turn 16.

    Children qualify for benefits until they turn 18 . But between the child’s 18th birthday and the spouse’s 60th birthday , no one in the family is eligible to collect. That’s what’s known as a blackout period.

    For example, a woman is left widowed at the age of 30 with a two-year-old son. As her son’s caregiver, she is entitled to collect Social Security benefits for 14 years, until his 16thbirthday. After that, her son continues to receive his survivor benefits for two more years, until he’s 18. His mom will be 46 at that point, leaving the family ineligible for any payments until her widow’s benefits become available when she’s 60. In this case, the Social Security blackout period lasts 14 years.

    One possible solution is for families to make sure they have adequate life insurance to support a surviving spouse during any blackout period. Take, for instance, a couple, both 31 years old, who recently had a child. If either parent dies, the surviving spouse is eligible to collect benefits until they are 47 years old . If they both buy 30-year term life insurance policies and keep up with the premiums, they’ll be assured of coverage until age 61one year after Social Security eligibility is reinstatedin case one of them dies.

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    Getting The Maximum Amount Because Of A Current Or Former Spouses Work

    If youre eligible because of a spouses work, the amount is at its highest at your Full Retirement Age . It doesnt increase if you wait and apply after that time. If your spouse has passed away, you may be eligible for Survivor benefits starting at age 60, or at age 50 if you are disabled.

    Learn more about Spouse and Survivor benefits.

    Chapter : Maximizing Your Benefit

    4 Secrets of Social Security Survivor Benefits ð¤«

    Many people ask can I collect my deceased spouses social security and my own at the same time? In fact, you cannot simply add together both a survivor benefit and your own retirement benefit. Instead, Social Security will pay the higher of the two amounts.

    Did you Know?

    If the benefit you would receive as a survivor is higher than your own earned benefit, Social Security pays the higher of the two amounts not the two combined.

    While it can seem unfair to not be able to claim both full benefits, there are claiming strategies you can use to maximize the total Social Security benefits you receive. This includes switching from one benefit to the other. See an example from one of our users directly below.

    Making the right decision on how to maximize your own benefits depends on how much your own retirement benefit vs. survivor benefit would be, and how long you think you will be living and needing the money. It also depends on whether youre working.

    • If you are already receiving spousal benefits when your spouse dies Social Security will convert your benefit to survivors benefits, which are up to 100% of your late spouses full retirement benefit .

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    Here Is A Guide On All You Need To Know If You Are Considering Applying For The Ssa Lump Sum Death Benefit

    When a Social Security-insured worker dies, surviving spouses or children get to claim a unique payment of $255. This is a separate payment to the SSA survivor benefits and claimants can benefit from both at the same time.

    Eligible spouses have priority when claiming the benefit, followed by the deceased worker’s childrens.

    Social Security survivors benefits explained


    If you are eligible for the Social Security lump sum benefit and you would like to apply to receive the payment, you must either through their toll-free service number at 1-800-772-1213 or visit any of their local Social Security offices around the country. No other online options are provided.

    An appointment is not required but if you don’t want to wait to apply for your benefit, SSA recommends that people call them before schedule a meeting and therefore, avoid any possible queues.

    What About The Government Pension Offset

    The Government Pension Offset reduces auxiliary Social Security benefits for people who earn a pension from federal, state or local government work they did and for which they did not pay Social Security taxes. The GPO lowers your spousal or survivor benefit by $2 for every $3 you get from a government pension.

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    What If I Remarry

    If you wait until age 60 to remarry , your new civil status wont affect your eligibility for survivor benefits. Again, lots of people leave money on the table by making big life decisions without consulting the Social Security cut-offs. Our advice: dont get remarried at age 59-and-11-months if you can wait until age 60!

    If You Dont Have All Of The Documents

    Social Security Benefits: Strategies for Divorcing Spouses

    Even if you dont have everything, dont delay applying for Social Security retirement benefits. You can provide the missing documents later. We may be able to help you get them.

    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 or find other ways to get the information we need.

    If you delay signing up, you could lose some benefits you may be due.

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    After You Submit Your Application

    Well send you an acknowledgment letter after we receive your retirement application. We may also contact you if we have questions or need additional information.

    Approximately two weeks before your first retirement warrant, weâll mail you a First Payment Acknowledgment Letter that provides important information about your service retirement, including the date and amount of your first retirement check.

    You may sign up to receive your retirement checks through direct deposit at the same time you submit your retirement application. To set up direct deposit online, log in to myCalPERS. Go to the Retirement tab and select Payment Options. Alternatively, you can complete and mail the Direct Deposit Authorization to:

    CalPERS Benefit Services Division

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    If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment

    If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it. Only the agency that authorized the payment can explain why you received it.

    If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:

    If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.

    Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.

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