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Social Security Survivors Benefits Calculator

How Much Could You Receive

How To Maximize Social Security Survivor Benefits – What You Need To Know ð?ð?»

The amount you receive as a surviving spouse or common-law partner will depend on:

  • whether you are younger or older than age 65
  • how much, and for how long, the deceased contributor has paid into the CPP

We first calculate the amount that the CPP retirement pension of the deceased is, or would have been, if the deceased had been age 65 at the time of death. Then, a further calculation is done based on the survivor’s age at the time of the contributor’s death.

How Much Can You Earn And Still Collect Survivor Benefits

While it can seem unfair to not be able to fully claim both your own and your survivor benefits, there are claiming strategies to maximize what 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.

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Full Retirement Age For Survivor Benefits

If you were born before 1962, you need to understand that the definition of full retirement age is different for survivor benefits than it is for all other benefits.

Knowing exactly when you are full retirement age is important when filing for your survivors benefits. Why? Because if the survivor benefit is the highest benefit youll be entitled to, there is generally no benefit to delaying your filing beyond that age.

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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.
  • 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.

Who Qualifies For Social Security Survivor Benefits

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Monthly survivor benefits are available to certain family members, including:

  • A widow age 60 or older who has not remarried
  • A widow of any age who is caring for the deceased’s child under age 16 or disabled
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than age 18 , or 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22
  • A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, or adopted child, under certain circumstances
  • Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income and whose own Social Security benefit would not be larger than that of the deceased offspring
  • A surviving divorced spouse, if they meet other eligibility requirements

First of all, you have to work a certain number of years and amass the requisite number of “credits” each year for your loved ones to be eligible for benefitswhich you have to do to be eligible yourself. For 2021, you receive one credit for every $1,470 you earn, up to $5,880, for a total of four credits a year. In 2022, it rises to every $1,510 you earn, up to $6,040.

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As A Retiree What Kind Of Benefits Are Payable To My Survivor

The types of benefits payable are:

  • Current spouse survivor annuity
  • Former spouse annuity that is voluntarily elected or awarded by a court order in divorces granted on or after May 7, 1985
  • A one-time lump sum benefit

Under FERS, a basic employee death benefit may be payable to the surviving widow, widower, or former spouse of an employee who dies while employed.

Va Survivors Pension Benefit Rates

Learn about VA Survivors Pension benefit rates. If you qualify for this benefit as a surviving spouse or dependent child, well base your payment amount on the difference between your countable income and a limit that Congress sets .

  • Your countable income is how much you earn, including your salary, investment and retirement payments, and any income you may have from your dependents. Some expenses, like non-reimbursable medical expenses , may reduce your countable income.

  • Your MAPR amount is the maximum amount of pension payable to a Veteran, surviving spouse, or child. Your MAPR is based on how many dependents you have and whether you qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. MAPRs are adjusted each year for cost-of-living increases. You can find your current MAPR amount using the tables below.

Example: Youre a qualified surviving spouse with one dependent child. You also qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. Your yearly income is $10,000.

Your MAPR amount = $18,867Your VA pension = $8,867 for the year

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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 and 2 months if still pursuing their elementary or secondary education. For surviving children who became disabled before age 22, their benefits continue for life.

When And How To Apply

Social Security Survivor Calculator (Do NOT Overlook Opportunities Here!)

The funeral home handling the arrangements may go ahead and contact Social Security on your behalf. To do so, they will need the deceased individual’s Social Security number. If the funeral home does not handle it for you, you will have to report the death on your own by contacting your local SSA Office or calling 1-800-772-1213. Reporting a death to Social Security cannot be done online.

Here is a list of information and documentation from the deceased individual that you will likely need to include when you apply:

  • Birth certificate

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How To Value Your Benefits

Suppose you’ll receive $1,500 per month from Social Security beginning at age 66. Each year, that $1,500 a month can be expected to go up a little if the cost of living measured by the consumer price index increases.

Now, suppose you’ll live another 20 years. How much would that income stream be worth?

You can answer that question by taking the present value of that stream of cash flow. To pay yourself $1,500 per month increasing by 2% per year for 20 years, you’d need $263,977 in the bank earning a 5% annual rate of return. You’d need $348,535 if you are going to live for 30 years.

If you assume that you’re using safe investments, earning 2% instead of a portfolio earning 5%the same rate of assumed inflation at which your income increases each yearyou would then need $352,941 in the bank for the income to last for 20 years. You’d need $529,411 for it to last 30 years.

A $1,500 per month, your Social Security benefit is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum, and that doesn’t factor in ancillary benefits like spousal benefits or survivor benefits.

Survivors Benefits If You Have Children

If your spouse dies and you have children with them under the age of 16, then , you can receive up to 75% of your spouses benefit. Similarly, if your spouse has children under 16 by a previous marriage, that spouse may receive up to 75% of your spouses benefit. Also, each child, up to the age of 18, or 19 if still in secondary school or disabledmay also receive up to 75%.

The maximum a family can receive is up to 180% of the workers PIA. If ex-spouses receive benefits, it does not in any way impact the amount a current spouse will receive . However, if you qualify because you have the workers child in your care, your benefit will affect the amount of the benefits of others on the workers record.

If a spouse or former spouse is not caring for the children of the deceased worker, they may still apply for benefits on their own, if they are at least 60 .

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Primary Insurance Amount Calculation

For 2022, the SSA established the first bend point as $1,024 and the second bend point as $6,172. Using the AIME from the earlier example of $10,141 and the bend points, we can calculate the primary insurance amount .

Below are the steps to calculating the PIA:

  • Multiply the first $1,024 of the person’s AIME by 90% = $921.60
  • Subtract the 1st and 2nd bend point and multiply that difference by 32% = $5,148*.32 = $1,647.35*
  • Subtract the 2nd bend point amount from the total AIME amount and multiply the difference by 15%. = $3,969*.15 = $595.35

*Please note that the calculation results are required to be rounded down to the next lower multiple of 10 cents.

  • The PIA is the sum of the three calculation results: = $3,164.30

*The multipliers90%, 32%, and 15%are set by law and do not change annually. The bend points are inflation-indexed but only through age 62. PIA is effectively locked in at age 62.

The Value Is Even Higher For Married Couples

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You might be shocked to learn that it’s not uncommon for benefits to be worth more than a million bucks for a married couple.

Take a couple who were both born in 1950. They each worked and earned decent wages. His benefit at full retirement age will be $2,668 per month. Hers will be $1,659 per month at full retirement age.

If they each claim their own benefit at their full retirement age, and he lives to age 85, and she lives to age 90, the present value of their lifetime benefits works out to about $941,000.

It used to be that he could file and suspend his benefit at age 66, thus allowing her to claim a spousal benefit. She would be able to claim a spousal benefit for four years, then switch to her own benefit when she reached age 70. He would begin his benefit at age 70. In this way, they could both get the delayed retirement credits that would allow them to collect the maximum monthly benefit amount.

But the Social Security Administration changed the rules for this file-and-suspend strategy, effective 2015. Now, when one individual suspends benefits, their spouse’s benefits are also suspended. This claiming strategy would have boosted the present value of their lifetime benefits to $1,057,000.

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Special Situation: Both People File Early

If your deceased spouse had filed for his/her own retirement benefit prior to his/her FRA and you file for your benefit as a survivor prior to your survivor FRA, then the math is a bit more complicated.

Specifically, your benefit as a survivor would be your deceased spouses PIA, but you must reduce that benefit as described above due to the fact that you filed early . Then, the resulting benefit is limited to the greater of:

  • 82.5% of your deceased spouses PIA, or
  • The amount your deceased spouse was receiving on the date of his/her death.

Eligible For Benefits In The Last 12 Months

There’s an exception for those who recently applied for retirement benefits. If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you might be allowed to withdraw your retirement application and apply for survivor benefits only. You can then reapply for your retirement benefits later when the benefits will be a higher amount.

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Do You Expect To Have Additional Sources Of Retirement Income Beyond Social Security

Continue saving in the coming years.

Social Security won’t replace all of your pre-retirement income. On average, Social Security replaces 40 percent of a worker’s income. That means your retirement savings, pension, 401, or Individual Retirement Account will need to fill the gap. Claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later can minimize this gap and maximize your monthly benefit. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be reduced by as much as 30 percent.Learn more about saving for retirement.

You have an opportunity to continue growing your money.

If you can, get the highest monthly Social Security benefit possible by claiming at your full Social Security benefit age or later. If you claim before your full retirement age, your monthly benefit could be permanently reduced by as much as 30 percent. Also, take advantage of catch-up contributions to your 401 or Individual Retirement Account . Lastly, avoid losing your retirement savings to unnecessary tax penalties. If you withdraw your 401 or IRA savings before age 59½, you will likely face an early withdrawal penalty.Learn more about how retirement savings grow.

It’s a perfect time to start saving.

It’s never too late to start saving!

There are many ways to plan for a secure retirement outside of Social Security.

It’s never too late to start saving!

A type of retirement savings account offered by employers to help their employees save for retirement.

Earnings Limit On Survivor Benefits

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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.

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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.

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.

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Benefits Available To Children & Parents

Eligible spouses arent the only ones that can receive Social Security survivor benefits. Dependent children and parents may also be entitled.

If you want to learn more, here are the best resources on the topic:

Childrens Benefits:

Social Security Benefits for Dependent Parents -Article by Mike Piper, the author of Social Security Made Simple.

How Do I Plan To Provide Benefits To My Survivors After My Death

This page describes how Social Security benefits for a surviving spouse ...

Your agency’s HR office will review the election opportunities with you to provide benefits after your death to your husband or wife, ex-spouse, or another person you designate as having an insurable interest in your continuing life. If you don’t elect to provide for a monthly benefit after your death, your survivor won’t be able to continue coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. You HR advisor will also cover the requirements that each survivor must meet to qualify.

When making an election to provide a benefit after your death, you must obtain your husband’s or wife’s written consent to provide less than the maximum benefit allowed. To designate an insurable interest, you must have a physical examination at your own expense.

Your agency’s HR office is the best place to start. They can provide personalized assistance and they have your employment records.

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