An old saying tells us that death and taxes are the only guarantees in life. While we know it’s inevitable, death is not something we like to think about. The loss of a loved one is overwhelming. It can leave you devastated, uncertain of what steps to take.
This is especially true when you lose a spouse. The death of a spouse is devastating emotionally, physically, and financially.
Social Security survivors benefits protect your surviving spouse if you die. Your widow or widower can receive reduced benefits as early as age 60 or full benefits at full retirement age or older. If your surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50 as long as the disability started before or within seven years of your death.
As the widow of a deceased worker, your surviving spouse can get benefits at any age if she or he takes care of your child who’s receiving Social Security.
We also make a one-time payment of $255 when you die if you’ve worked long enough. We can only pay this benefit to your spouse or child, if they meet certain requirements. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.
Survivors benefits are an earned benefit, but you may wonder how much your surviving spouse can receive. The amount of benefits your surviving spouse will get from Social Security depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the more their benefits will be. You can learn more about this earned benefit by visiting our Survivors Planner: Survivors Benefits For Your Widow Or Widower.
You can also check your Social Security Statement to see an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits and the survivors benefits we could pay along with other important information.
Death is unavoidable, but planning ensures some protection for your surviving spouse. For more information, please read Survivors Benefits.