Planning Now Cuts Back on Future Uncertainty

 a couple sitting together on a sofa looking at their mySocialSecurity accountAn 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.


60 thoughts on “Planning Now Cuts Back on Future Uncertainty

    • 9 months for currently married couples. You are confusing the divorced spouse rules thar require a 10 year marriage.

      • If you are divorced from your ex, but was married 9 1/2 yrs, can I claim on his social security? I get s.s. Survivors benefits now from my 2nd. Husband and since my ex he’s on s s also can I collect off of his S S ?

    • Yes.. I didn’t qualify as well, as his child, DISABLED, &I took care of him for 3+ years prior to his passing. Then SS took every dime out of his checking account, so, I COULDN’T BURY HIM AT ALL!

      • This is only paid so that they are officially informed of the persons death, otherwise if unreported, checks may continue to be collected for many years. Is that a benefit, yes if you are dumb & dishonest.

    • Nope; a JOKE … not a “mistake.” The SAME amount that it has been for years/decades! We ARE talking about ‘the government,’ right???

      • The government is not a single entity. The Congress the public elects determines what the law provides for. You cannot blame the agency for the laws of your elected representatives anymore than you can blame a traffic cop for your speeding ticket after the city representatives set the speed limit. Government works better when you know what it does, how and why. Otherwise your complaints don’t change a thing. This is a democracy and you can exercise your rights.

    • No it’s the truth, my husband passed in 2010. And that’s all I received, you do receive it within 10 days

  1. they forgot to tell that you will receive, only if you make $15,700 a year if you make more forget about it!
    Who lives in California with $15,700 a year? that is ridiculous!

    • You are confusing the rules for those who are not full retirement age and are receiving benefits. You can earn as much as you want at FRA.

      Inform yourself and read the earnings test rules at SSA.GOV.

    • I also am a surviving spouse and when she foolhardy me i can only make $15,700 a year i told her that’s below poverty level that comes to $1310/mo. My house payment is more than that. I don’t understand, if it’s my husbands social sec. That he paid into for 45 yrs, what does that have to do with how much i make. The system is all screwed up. There’s too many people collecting off of other people’s money and people are living longer. …so now the system needs to be changed!

      • That is so true, ppl collecting it if they have asthma, or something stupid which is hurting other ppl that really needs it. Everyone I talk to wants to collect social security so they don’t want to work. Omg idk how u are doing it . Idk if u work and collect but SS don’t give u much, my husband worked for 54 yrs paid into it all those yrs and I only get 1322 a month but I am only 55 but disabled and can’t make it. I really think I’m getting screwed.

  2. My wife and I were married in Cambodia during the war and lost all legal documentation of our marriage. We’ve lived here since 1982 and have worked since then, raised our four children and are looking to retire soon. We want to make sure my wife and I receive our social security benefits in the case of one of us passing. Could you please tell me if there’s anything I need to do, to make sure there isn’t any issues in the future??


    • Hi Toeur. We must always verify the eligibility of individuals applying for Social Security benefits. We may need to see certain supporting documents in order to pay benefits and help us decide how much your benefits and your wife’s benefits would be. The supporting documents you’ll need will depend on the circumstances of your claim. If you do not have proof of marriage or cannot obtain one from Cambodia, we suggest you contact your local Social Security office as soon as possible, to find out what –if any- other evidence may be acceptable. Thanks.

  3. Husband 84 And I 83. We both drawing s.s on our own earnings. His is considerably larger than mine. If he dies first can I draw his s.s payment or would I have to try to live on mine. Not possible.

  4. What if I am the daughter and took care of.My Mother and she wasn’t married. Is there any survivor benefit or $255 burial benefit??

  5. Getting nearer to retiring at 70 and applying for social security. As a disable vet, do I get more for being in the service?

  6. I was married to my now deceased wife of eighteen years we were divorced in 98 I did know of her until my son who is the military serving in SK at present she has died maybe three or fours ago my deceased wife was two years younger than I am I do not know if she was on ss at the time of death she died in NJ how do I go about finding out or getting question answered to this issue I live in Brooklyn NY

    • Hi Wilmoth, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 and ask one of our representatives to assist you. Be prepared to provide personal information to identify your deceased ex-wife. Depending on the information you provide, we may need to ask other questions. If you are eligible for survivor’s benefits you may have to provide certain documents. Our representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7.p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day, or later in the week, thanks.

  7. My husband and I recently retired after working over 45 years, having fica withheld from our pay and our employers matching that only to discover if something should happen to either of us, one of our benefits stops being forced to live off an income which is basically cut in half, poverty level. We take pride in the fact that we worked hard and have never received state or federal assistance not even food stamps, unemployment comp or any of the freebies available to so many, however the decision to reduce our income when we would already be devastated by the lose of life we would be forced to in order to survive. How fair is that. We both paid in so what happens to the other. I’m also understand if my husband or I had been married at least 10 years to someone else that person could draw half of the social security benefit even after death, so that person could draw half, the widow/widower would get the higher social security benefit and lose the lesser????? Why should they be penalized shouldn’t the survivor get that at least 50% of their benefit. I understand the system is in trouble, however it shouldn’t be those who paid over 45 years or more who had no choice but to pay be penalized. If you remove the FICA limit that would resolve your problem. Also please look at those young men and women on SSI who have been for years, what type of review is being done, I hope the examiners aren’t as gullible as it seems. My husband was run over by a dump truck in his teens and could barely walk due to the pain and also had a foot crushed by a piece 2 ton of steel, however he continued to work. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sees this.

    • You should be thankful that you were even able to work 45 years instead of criticizing and alluding that people on disability don’t qualify for benefits. I put in my time of work and not collecting welfare or food stamps. I also have an autistic son who will probably never have the opportunity of getting a halfway decent job during his lifetime.
      And I also don’t consider “examiners” to be gullible when they award disability to an individual.

    • Why would the government be obligated to pay RETIREMENT benefits to a DEAD person??? Everybody griping about disabled people who “don’t deserve” the SSDI benefits that THEY worked all their lives for and PAID INTO, and griping about how we need “smaller government,” but then when it comes to them, they somehow feel entitled to MORE than everyone else and blame the government and SSA for being “broken.” My God people, what do you want?
      Another disgusting thing I see on the comments here every single day are the angry people criticizing the government and the SSA, posting all kinds of false claims that are so wrong and so ignorant – yet literally EVERYTHING you could ever hope to know about Social Security is right here on this very website. And stil, day after day I’ve seen literally dozens of people making these ridiculous FALSE claims – including several posters right here on this comments board – about all the terrible things the SSA does and does not do. It boggles the mind. Anyone who is too lazy to bother to click on the FACTS at the SOURCE -especially when they’re right here on this very site – doesn’t have any room to talk about “handouts” to anyone else, and quite frankly, such an individual doesn’t deserve the benefits our government provides to us. No matter how much they get it’s never enough, but let anyone else have even a pittance and it’s “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Unbelievable.

  8. I am 54 years old and on disability. I only get $600 a month from social security. I was married for 25 years and then divorced. I receive alimony and am using that to pay my mortgage and bills. My alimony stops when I turn 62 and I am very worried about my future. I would like to know if there was any way I could find out now (even a ball park figure) what my ex-husband would get if he retired when he was 62 because I will being using his social security. Also, will I be getting 35% or 50%. I have tried using the online calculaters and even called Social Security. I don’t want to have to wait till 2 or 3 months before I file at 62 to find out the amount because I want to plan for my future.

    • We are sorry that you are having trouble using our Benefit for Spouses calculator. Your spousal benefit can be as much as half of your ex-spouse’s “Primary Insurance Amount” or PIA, depending on when he retires. If you are eligible for a higher benefit on your ex-husband’s record at age 62, your benefit will be about 33% of his PIA. Remember, that if your benefit amount is higher that the spousal benefit, then we can only pay that amount.
      Unfortunately, Social Security records are confidential and we do not disclose information, unless we have the proper authorization or consent.

  9. Question:
    Per SSA rule what condition of one’s body is called disability?
    American Employers consider diabetes is a disability.

    • Hi Paul. You may find our listing of impairments useful. The Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. To learn more about the process we use to decide if you are disabled under our rules, visit our Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled. Thanks!

  10. Well, I’m considered disabled due to muscular skeletal disease, degenerative disc disease on cervical and thoracic spine, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, sjogrens syndrome, which involves a major organ, and severe clinical depression and ptsd. I would say that is enough of a disability.

    I still would appreciate an answer to my question if possible.

    • IT’S IN WRITING IN BLACK AND WHITE RIGHT HERE ON THIS WEBSITE!!! How lazy are you, anyway that you can’t be bothered to LOOK IT UP??? It lists EVERY SINGLE condition and every single thing they require and consider for every condition, in incredible detail. Pages and pages, all there for you, you can even download it all to your computer to read at your leisure, or even print it out! You can order the brochures to be mailed to you FREE! OMG, you people are priceless. If this level of intelligence is indicative of where society is headed, we’re doomed.

  11. $255 for the spouse. No wonder they are not reporting that their spouse is dead and collecting their spouse’s social security. They will probably only get probation when they are caught and die before they ever pay it all back.

    • Stealing, federal offense, fraud, criminal – any of those words ring a bell? Collecting benefits for a dead person is all of those things, and FISHONEST, as well. Boy, you’ve certainly shown us all what kind of person YOU are.

      • I am all for sending those people to jail. They should bring back the chain gang. They should be shackled and made to work.

        They should do it to the people on welfare and SSI who commit fraud because they never worked a day in their life.

  12. I’ve been trying since 2013 to get disability. they keep turning me down.its my body I know how I feel.I’m limited to what I can do.I hurt all the time.I know what I can and can’t do.I’ve worked most my life.I’m trying to get help but I haven’t yet.

  13. I don’t think we should cut anything from are military it the one who defends the U.S and all its people. I belive it’s one thing we should leave out of cutting back on !!! What are we guna do with a military that doesn’t have what it needs !!! I belive if this happens it’s the start of a major upset.

  14. I don t think we should cut anything from are military it the one who defends the U.S and all its people. I belive it s one thing we should leave out of cutting back on !!! What are we guna do with a military that doesn t have what it needs !!! I belive if this happens it s the start of a major upset.

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