Q & A
My husband is very ill and he doesn’t have life insurance…
Complete Question: I’ve been a stay-at-home mom most of my life and have not earned enough to receive Social Security benefits. My husband receives Social Security, so I get a small percentage of his benefits. Recently, he became very ill. He does not have life insurance and due to his illness, we can only get a small amount of coverage. I didn’t want to think about widow benefits because it was just too morbid to consider, but now I have to. My spousal benefits are so small and I can’t live off of them. What can I expect to get, if anything, from Social Security as a widow?
Answer: As much as people do not like to think about it, planning for survivor benefits is very important. First, this may not help you much, but there is still a law on the books which will give you a lump sum death payment of $255. What you are probably more interested in is the Social Security Survivor benefit, which, unlike spousal benefits, can be as much as 100% of what your husband is currently receiving. As with any other Social Security payment, certain factors can reduce this percentage, such as your age. For example, you can start receiving survivor benefits when you are 60 years old (50 if you are disabled). At that age, you would receive 71.5% of your husband’s current benefit – much more than what you are receiving now no matter what your current age is. The older you are, the higher this percentage. If you are full retirement age (currently 66), you will receive 100% of his current benefits.