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What Is Social Security Death Benefit

What About My Ex

How Does The Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit Work?

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 Claim Benefits From My Record

Auxiliary benefits are divided into two categories: those that kick in before a workers death and those that go to the workers survivors. The second kind of benefits are often called survivor or Social Security death benefits. Here are the rules:

While youre alive, your spouse and any ex-spouse become eligible to claim spousal benefits from your record, beginning when they turn 62. In order for your husband or wife to claim Social Security spousal benefits you must have already claimed your primary benefits. Divorced spouses, though, can begin claiming benefits on their exs record whether or not the ex has filed for retirement benefits.

Minor children and disabled children of any age who became disabled before age 22 are also eligible to receive auxiliary benefits if their retired parent has started claiming primary benefits.

After a worker eligible for primary Social Security benefits dies, a few classes of protected individuals are entitled to claim auxiliary survivor benefits . The folks with this kind of Social Security eligibility include:

How To Stop Social Security Check Payments

The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.

If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.

Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.

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How Is Social Security Taxed

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.

Return Information To Calpers

Social Security Survivor Benefits for a Spouse

Return the completed forms and required documents to CalPERS.

CalPERS Disability & Survivor Benefits DivisionSurvivor & Death BenefitsP.O. Box 1652Sacramento, CA 95812-1652

The information on the completed forms serves as the formal application to identify beneficiaries who may be legally entitled to receive benefits. We’ll contact you if additional information is needed.

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Act Promptly To Apply For Ssa Benefits

Losing a family member is difficult under any circumstances. When a child is left without a parent, the grieving process is further complicated by concerns about how the child’s financial needs can continue to be met. Even though it’s difficult to think about dealing with paperwork after a loved one dies, it’s important to promptly apply for survivors’ benefits. The faster the application is completed, the sooner the caregiver will know what financial resources are available to help provide for the child’s ongoing needs.

In What Situation Can I Claim

The surviving spouse’s allowances include:

  • the survivor’s pension , which corresponds to a proportion of the pension which the deceased person could have received. It is paid to the surviving spouse or ex-spouse
  • the widowhood allowance , which is paid to you, depending on your income, if you do not meet the conditions of age in order to benefit from a survivor’s pension
  • the death grant , which guarantees the payment of a sum to your family from a deceased employee, under certain conditions linked to the latter.

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Social Security Survivor Benefits

Social Security survivor benefits are available to surviving spouses and their dependent or disabled children if the deceased spouse earned enough credits during working years. The number of credits needed depend on the decedent’s age at death. Younger people require fewer credits, but no one needs more than 40 credits, which is equivalent to 10 years of work. If you were divorced at the time of death, you may still qualify if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.

An ex-spouse does not have to meet the length of marriage requirement if the ex-spouse is caring for the decedent’s child who is under the age of 16 or disabled. An unmarried child can receive benefits until age 18 or up to age 19 if still attending elementary or secondary school. If you have the worker’s dependent child, you are entitled to benefits right away. If you do not have dependent children, you can begin receiving reduced benefits at age 60 and full benefits at retirement age. If you are disabled, you can receive benefits at age 50.

What Is The Social Security Death Benefit

Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit

The death benefit Social Security provides is a small, one-time lump sum payment. Its given to a single survivor of someone who received Social Security benefits at the time of their death. While it can provide a little financial relief for your loved ones after you die, its not enough to pay all of your funeral costs and other final expenses on its own.

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Calculating The Benefit Amount

Figuring out how much youll receive in Social Security survivor benefits requires a little math. The simple explanation is that at the death of the first spouse, surviving spouses receives the higher of their own benefit, or the benefit of the deceased. But this simple explanation doesnt consider what age the deceased filed for benefits, if they did at all, and when the surviving spouse decides to file.

If the Deceased DID NOT File for Benefits

If the deceased spouse never filed for benefits, but died on or before their full retirement age, the calculation is relatively easy. The survivor receives the deceaseds full retirement age benefit, adjusted for the survivors filing age .

If the deceased spouse never filed for benefits, and died after their full retirement age, the survivor receives the deceaseds benefit in the same amount it would have been on the date of the deceaseds death reduced for the filing age of the survivor. You can see the next chart for more information on age-based reductions that come into play in both cases.

But what if the deceased spouse filed for benefits before he passed away? If this is the case, it could get a little more confusing.

If the Deceased DID File for Benefits

When it doesnt pay to delay

And The Windfall Elimination Provision

The Windfall Elimination Provision is another way that the Social Security Administration limits the benefits of people who have other sources of government retirement income. If you have a pension from government employment, you may be subject to the WEP.

Unlike the GPO, the WEP applies to primary benefits, not auxiliary benefits. The WEP acts as a check on the primary benefits of someone who has held two different kinds of jobsone subject to Social Security taxes and the other not. In some states, the WEP applies to public school teachers who have retirement income from defined benefit pension plans. The WEP can reduce your Social Security by up to half of your pension benefit.

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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:

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.

Getting The Full Benefit

Petition · Raise the Social Security Death Benefit from $255 to cover a ...

If neither of you had started claiming Social Security yet, you can wait until your survivor FRA or older to apply. In this case, you will receive 100% of your late spouseâs basic benefit amount.

If they were able to get $1,650 a month at their FRA, you would get $1,650 a month by waiting until your full retirement age to start claiming.

Survivorâs benefits include the effect of delayed retirement credits. If your spouse was already past age 66 or 67 and had not started taking Social Security, you may get a higher survivor benefit than if they had filed sooner.

When you start claiming your survivor benefit, you would get what their payment would have been at that later age. This will be a larger amount than if they had started sooner.

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What Percentage Of Social Security Benefits Does A Widow Or Widower Receive

The surviving spouse can receive 100% of the benefits at full retirement age. If the surviving spouse is between age 60 and their full retirement age, they can receive reduced benefitsusually 71.599%. If the surviving spouse is disabled, they can begin receiving 71.5% of the benefits at age 50. Surviving spouses with children under 16 receive 75% of the benefits

Documents You Need To Apply

Please select the benefit you will be applying for from the list below to see what information and documents you may need when you apply:

If you don’t have all the documents you need, don’t delay applying for Social Security benefits.

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 we can’t verify your information online, we can still help you get the information you need.

Mailing Your Documents

If you mail any documents to us, you must include the Social Security number so that we can match them with the correct application. Do not write anything on the original documents. Please write the Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper and include it in the mailing envelope along with the documents.

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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.

Advanced Filing Strategies For Survivors

Social Security beneficiaries say loss of spouse dollars at death an “unfair” reality

In early 2018 the Office of the Inspector General released a report with some shocking news. 82% of widows and widowers who are receiving Social Security survivors benefits are actually entitled to a higher monthly benefit payment. The only problem is, the SSA never made them aware of this. This affected an estimated 9,224 widows and widowers 70 and older who could have received an additional $131.8 million in Social Security benefits had they been told they could delay filing for retirement benefits until reaching age 70.

Theres no need to wait for them to tell you about itlets jump in right now.

Prior to 2016 there were several popular Social Security filing strategies that would allow an individual to file for certain benefits and later switch back to their own benefits. The benefit of this was to allow their own benefits to grow with the 8% per year delayed retirement credits However, law changes in 2016 did away with many of the Social Security filing strategies. The one that remains belongs to survivors and it can be powerful. Heres how it works.

If you have a benefit based on your own work history, it could make sense to file for a reduced survivors benefit as early as 60. While you are drawing your survivor benefit, your own benefit grows every month you delay filing for it. Generally, these adjustments could grow your benefit by 77% from age 62 to age 70. At age 70, you simply switch back to your own benefit .

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Fact #: Social Security Benefits Are Modest

Social Security benefits are much more modest than many people realize the average Social Security retirement benefit in January 2022 was about $1,614 per month, or about $19,370 per year. For someone who worked all of their adult life at average earnings and retires at age 65 in 2022, Social Security benefits replace about 37 percent of past earnings. Social Securitys replacement rate fell as the programs full retirement age gradually rose from 65 in 2000 to 67 in 2022.

Most retirees enroll in Medicares Supplementary Medical Insurance and have Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks. As health care costs continue to outpace general inflation, those premiums will take a bigger bite out of their checks.

Social Security benefits are also modest by international standards. The U.S. ranks just outside the bottom third of developed countries in the percentage of an average workers earnings replaced by the public pension system.

Social Security is important for children and their families as well as for older adults. Over 6.5 million children under age 18 lived in families who received income from Social Security in 2019. That number included nearly 2.8 million children who received their benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as others who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits.

Social Security lifted 1.1 million children above the poverty line in 2020, as the chart shows.

Notify Calpers Of The Death

You can notify CalPERS of the death either online, by telephone, or mail.


CalPERS Disability & Survivor Benefits Division Survivor & Death Benefits P.O. Box 1652 Sacramento, CA 95812-1652

You can also visit the Headquarters and Regional Offices near you to report the death in person. In some cases, the member’s employer may report the death directly to us.

Be ready to provide the following information when you contact CalPERS:

  • Date of death
  • Name and Social Security number or CalPERS ID of the deceased
  • Name, address, telephone number, date of birth, date of marriage, and Social Security number of surviving spouse or registered domestic partner
  • Name, address, and telephone number of closest next of kin or the person designated to settle the estate, if there is no spouse
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the person providing the notice of death

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Reporting The Death Of A Social Security Beneficiary

When a Social Security beneficiary passes away, the Social Security Administration can continue sending out their regular monthly benefits until the death is reported. So, for example, if you share a bank account with your spouse and they die, their Social Security benefits may continue to be automatically deposited into your shared account until the SSA is notified.

Oftentimes the funeral home that handles a deceased Social Security beneficiarys arrangements will notify Social Security that the person has passed away. If it doesnt, however, you can notify the Social Security Administration yourself by calling 800-772-1213 or visiting your nearest Social Security office if its open for business .

Other Things You Need To Know

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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.

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