Social Security Survivor Benefits
Will This Help Al?
Caller #6 Part 2-Last week we discussed a call from Al regarding spousal benefits. Since he and his wife both worked and were eligible for benefits on their own records, and that amount would be more than what they would receive in spousal benefits (Your own benefits are paid at 100% and spousal benefits are paid at 50%) he would not be eligible for spousal benefits.
Where this scenario might affect him is in Survivor Benefits. This depends on who has the higher earnings—he or his wife.
Who is Eligible? The criteria for Survivor Benefits are different than those for spousal benefits. With Survivor:
- You must be at least 60 years of age, not the usual 62. If you collect before your Full Retirement Age, you will be subject to a reduction in the benefit amount. If you apply at Full Retirement Age you will receive 100% of your spouse’s benefit.
- If you remarry before the age of 60, you are no longer eligible to receive benefits on your former spouse’s record. If you marry after age 60, you will receive full benefits permanently.
Can I Collect Survivor Benefits If I Am Divorced?
- If you are divorced and were married to the deceased for more than 10 years, and did not remarry before age 60, you may be entitled to Survivor Benefits. If eligible, you receive those benefits at 100% for the rest of your life. If you apply before your Full Retirement Age, your benefit will be reduced accordingly. Benefits to a divorced spouse do not affect those of the current spouse.
Can I Work and Collect Survivor Benefits?
- If you continue to work and have not reached your Full Retirement Age, you are subject to the earnings limit of $15,720. For every $2 over that limit, you are penalized $1. In the year of your Full Retirement Age, the limit is $41,880 and the penalty $1 for every $3 earned over that amount. Once you reach Full Retirement Age, there is no earnings limit and no penalty applies.
Am I Entitled To Any Other Survivor Benefits?
- Surviving spouses are entitled to a one-time payment of $255.
What Will My Payment Be?
- It is important to note that when one spouse passes away, the remaining spouse receives only one Social Security payment. It will be the higher of the two—that of the deceased or that of the remaining spouse, not both.
If I Collect Survivor Benefits Can I Switch To My Own Later?
- Unlike Spousal Support with Survivor Benefits, the remaining spouse can Claim and Switch. They can collect Survivor Benefits at age 60 and later change to benefits on their own record if that amount is higher than what they are currently receiving. While collecting Survivor Benefits, their own benefit amount will continue to increase possibly giving the recipient a higher payment for the remainder of their life.
If Al becomes a surviving spouse and the amount he would receive on his wife’s record is more than what he would receive on his own, he can collect Survivor Benefits and receive the higher amount.
Josh Jalinski, The Financial Quarterback on WOR Radio, NY can offer more detailed information about your particular financial situation at 888-988-JOSH.