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Social Security Survivor Benefits – A Primer

Thomas Hager, writing in Forbes, admits most people prefer to not talk about death. But an important part of your financial health is what happens to your Social Security benefits when a spouse passes away. To qualify for Survivor Benefits:

  • Survivor needs to be at least 60 and not married, or 50 if disabled
  • You need to be married at least 9 months except in the case of an accident
  • An ex-spouse can collect a survivor benefit if married at least 10 years
  • Eligible children under 16 can also receive a survivor benefit, worth up to 75% of the deceased’s benefit
  • You cannot apply online

Hager also notes a new Bill introduced in the U.S. House would provide a surviving spouse a benefit equal to 75% of the combined Social Security benefits received by the couple before the death of the spouse. Currently, a surviving spouse receives the higher of the two benefits being received and the lower benefit goes away. While not yet law it would be a significant benefit to a surviving spouse. Full article here.

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