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Social Security Benefits After Spouse Dies

How Do I Take Money Out Of A Deceased Person’s Bank Account

If Your Spouse Dies, Can You Collect Their Social Security Benefits?

The probate process may vary a bit but generally it will proceed more or less as follows: a judge will name a Personal Representative of the estate. The Personal Representative, with the help of the probate attorney, will submit the required paperwork to the bank and the bank will issue a check made out to the estate.

Survivor Benefits For Ex

If you were married to your ex for at least 10 years, and you do not get married again before age 60, then you can collect a benefit when your ex dies. You can collect this benefit even if they got married again before their death.

If you are caring for your ex-spouse’s child, and the child is under 16, the 10-year rule does not apply. In general, the benefit is the same as it would be for a spouse who isnât divorced.

Survivors Benefits If You Are Divorced

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.

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How Do You Apply For Survivor Benefits

Because individual circumstances can vary widely, it is not possible to apply for survivor benefits online. However, you can apply over the phone or by appointment at your local Social Security office. Current requirements and contact information are always available on the Social Security Administration website.

Applying for survivor benefits may require you to submit specific documents, such as a death certificate, marriage certificate, proof of citizenship, or a divorce decree, so rounding them up beforehand will help expedite the process.

Start With Your Benefits Estimates

What happens to your Social Security payments when one spouse dies ...

As a widow or widower, you have the option to claim Social Security survivors benefits as early as age 60, if your deceased spouse’s earnings record qualified him or her for Social Security.

The survivors benefits that you’d receive at 60 would be reduced, but you can switch to benefits based on your record later , which may be higher than the survivors benefits. In the meantime, you can get your benefits estimates by visiting the Social Security Administration website.

You can compare the estimates of what you’d receive based on your own record against what you could receive based on your deceased spouse’s record. Call the SSA at 800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment.

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Do I Need To Return Social Security Benefits After My Spouse Dies

People spend their whole lives working — all the while paying into Social Security with hopes theyll get a decent monthly check from the government once they retire. AP

EDITORS NOTE: Money Matters is a new series of stories running on SILive.com that will provide financial advice on common money issues related to everything from saving for retirement to buying a home. And while many of you have financial-related questions and no one to ask, thats where we come in. Simply reach out to us, and well get the expert advice you need.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — People spend their whole lives working — all the while paying into Social Security with hopes theyll get a decent monthly benefits check from the government once they retire.

And when youre married, two monthly Social Security checks can help pay for many household expenses.

But what happens when a spouse dies? What needs to be paid back to the government — especially if your spouse signed up for direct deposit and the checks keep coming?

We caught up with Woodrow resident Adam L. Ross, who has 20 years experience in the financial service industry, to find out more about the ins and outs of Social Security.

Question: Do I need to return my spouses Social Security benefits after he/she/they die?

How you return the benefits depends on how the deceased received benefits:

Question: What are monthly surviving benefits? How is eligibility determined?


If You’re Already Receiving Retirement Benefits

For those already being paid retirement benefits, they can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the current retirement benefit being received is less than the survivor benefit. In other words, they’ll pay you the higher of the two benefits. However, both benefits cannot be combined and taken at the same time.

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Social Security Disability Benefits For Widows

Home » Frequently Asked Questions » Social Security Disability Benefits for Widows

You can receive disability benefits if your deceased spouse was receiving disability benefits at the time of their death or if they worked and earned sufficient work credits for you to qualify. The disability attorneys with our law firm can help you determine if you are eligible. You may also be able to use your spouses work history to qualify for disability benefits if you suffer from an impairment but do not otherwise qualify.

You can learn more about your options for continuing to draw disability benefits after the death of your spouse during a free consultation. We understand you rely on these benefits to make ends meet and will help you receive benefits from the programs for which you may qualify.

When A Family Member Dies

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

We should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 . You can speak to one of our representatives between 8:00 am 7:00 pm. Monday through Friday. You can also contact your local Social Security office.

Recommended Reading: Chapter 7 Medicare Benefit Policy Manual

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.

Who Can Get Survivor Benefits And At What Age

After the death of a spouse, you can get a monthly Social Security survivor benefit. This is true as long as you have been married for at least nine months.

If you are caring for the child of your deceased spouse, and the child is under the age of 16, you can claim your spousal payment after their death even if you were married much less time.

You can collect a Social Security survivor benefit as early as age 60. If you are disabled, you can collect this payment as early as age 50.

At age 60 you will receive only about 70% of the amount you could get if you wait until your Full Retirement Age . This is age 66 for people born in 1945-1956. FRA increases for people born in 1962 or later. The highest FRA for collecting a spousal benefit is 67.

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How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get Social Security Survivor Benefits

A surviving spouse must have been married for at least one year to be eligible to receive their spouse’s Social Security death benefits. However, if the surviving spouse is the parent of the spouse’s child, the one-year rule is waived. A divorced spouse may be eligible to receive benefits if they were married to their former spouse for at least 10 years.

Getting The Most Out Of Social Security Is Crucial

Social Security spousal benefits: 5 shocking facts you should know ...

According to Natalie Colley, CFP®, CDFA® and a lead financial adviser with Francis Financial who specializes in working with widows, For women who have suffered the death of a spouse, getting the most out of Social Security is crucial. Now that you are no longer receiving income from your spouse, Social Security benefits will most likely make up a much larger share of your retirement income. However, most women dont fully understand the confusing Social Security payout options which would enable them to fully maximize this benefit.

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Effect On Social Security Solvency

To the extent that adoption of a private-accounts system led to an increase in the total amount of inheritance benefits received by heirs as a group, this would signify that some of the money that had been diverted from Social Security to private accounts had not been repaid, leaving the Social Security system with a net loss. Some resources that otherwise would have remained in the Social Security Trust Fund would have been passed to heirs instead. To prevent Social Securitys financing hole from expanding, these added inheritance benefits would have to be paid for through deeper cuts in Social Security benefits or larger increases in taxes than otherwise would be needed. As elsewhere in public policy, there is no free lunch here.

These issues and findings are examined in more detail below.

What Debts Are Forgiven At Death

What Types of Debt Can Be Discharged Upon Death?

  • Secured Debt. If the deceased died with a mortgage on her home, whoever winds up with the house is responsible for the debt. …
  • Unsecured Debt. Any unsecured debt, such as a credit card, has to be paid only if there are enough assets in the estate. …
  • Student Loans. …

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How Much Can You Get

First, Social Security pays a death benefit of $255 if the surviving spouse lived with the deceased spouse. This payment is made only once. More important is the monthly income.

At a basic level, the monthly amount depends on the earnings of the deceased spouse over their whole life. It also depends on the Social Security income they were getting or would have gotten.

The higher your spouse’s earnings were over their life, the higher their Social Security income will be.

Other Things You Need To Know

Social Security survivors benefits for spouses, family explained

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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

Recommended Reading: Medicare Supplement Plan D Benefits

What Happens If The Deceased Received Monthly Benefits

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death and any later months.

For example, if the person died in July, you must return the benefits paid in August. How you return the benefits depends on how the deceased received benefits:

  • For funds received by direct deposit, contact the bank or other financial institution. Request that any funds received for the month of death or later be returned to us.
  • Benefits received by check must be returned to us as soon as possible. Do not cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later.

Apply For Survivors Benefits

You should notify us immediately when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

In most cases, the funeral home will report the persons death to us. You should give the funeral home the deceased persons Social Security number if you want them to make the report.

If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 . You can speak to a Social Security representative between 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can find the phone number for your local office by using our Social Security Office Locator and looking under Social Security Office Information. The toll-free Office number is your local office.

If you are not getting benefits

If you are not getting benefits, you should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive.

If you are getting benefits

If you are getting benefits on your spouse’s or parent’s record:

  • You generally will not need to file an application for survivors benefits.
  • We’ll automatically change any monthly benefits you receive to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death.
  • We may be able to pay the automatically.

If you are getting retirement or disability benefits on your own record:

  • You will need to apply for the survivors benefits.
  • We will check to see whether you can get a higher benefit as a widow or widower.

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Who Qualifies For Widow Benefits

Generally speaking, a widow or widower may qualify for survivor benefits if the individual is at least 60 years old and has been married to the deceased individual for at least nine months at the time of death. Other qualifications can include being the surviving spouse of a Social Security beneficiary from whom you are divorced.

Claiming Survivors Benefits At 60

Social Security Benefits For Spouse After Death

Rodney is age 58 and plans to retire at age 60. His primary insurance amount at age 66 and 6 months is $2,200. His wife Helen passed away last year at age 56 with a PIA of $1,800. At age 60, Rodney applies to receive a reduced monthly survivors benefit of $1,287. He continues to receive the survivors benefits until age 70 when he can collect the maximum based on his own earnings record, which has grown to $2,816 per month.

Read Also: What Is Social Security Death Benefit

Iii A Retirees Consumption Versus An Heirs Inheritance

Previous sections of this paper have examined situations in which heirs would end up worse off under private-account plans. For many other retirees, private accounts would make little difference in how much their heirs inherited.

For retirees who live to about an average life expectancy, private accounts would offer essentially the same tradeoff as retirees face today in the absence of private accounts: retirees could leave a nest egg for their heirs, but to do so, they would have to sacrifice some of their own consumption in old age.

Retirees can use their resources either to consume for themselves or to save for heirs. If private-account plans provide retirees with the same overall level of resources as a system without private accounts , then the choice will remain essentially the same for retirees, irrespective of the form in which the money comes. A monthly Social Security check can either be spent or saved for an inheritance. The same goes for a lump-sum payment or monthly income from a private account.

Accordingly, retirees with private accounts would face similar decisions to those that retirees face under the current system. Under both systems, retirees would have to decide to what degree to spend to meet current needs and to what degree to save for heirs.

Receiving Survivors Benefits Early

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

Widows or widowers benefits based on age can start any time between age 60 and full retirement age as a survivor. If the benefits start at an earlier age, they are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before full retirement age.

If a person receives widow’s or widower’s benefits, and will qualify for a retirement benefit that’s more than their survivors benefit, they can switch to their own retirement benefit as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The rules are complicated and vary depending on the situation. Talk to a Social Security representative about the options available.

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