Widowed

If your spouse has passed away, you may be eligible for a survivor benefit. The extra money may be essential for you. Ask a RSSA for details.

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Survivor benefits: Receive up to 100 percent of your late spouse’s entitlements

If you are eligible to collect Social Security benefits upon retirement, your spouse or dependents may be eligible for survivor benefits in the event of your death. The rules can be complicated and often change, which is why having an Advisor with the RSSA® credential on your side is so important. We’ll help you navigate the process to help ensure you receive all of the benefits that are legally yours.

How do I know if I am eligible for survivor benefits?

You must be one of the following:

  • A widow(er) age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled) who has not remarried
  • A widow(er) of any age who is caring for the deceased’s child (or children) under age 16 or disabled
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school), or 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22
  • A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, or adopted child, under certain circumstances
  • A parent, age 62 or older, who was dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income and whose own Social Security benefit would not be larger than that of the deceased offspring
  • A surviving divorced spouse, if they meet other eligibility requirements

How large a benefit can I expect?

The size of the survivor benefit depends on the survivor’s relationship to the deceased and the age at which they begin receiving benefits:

For spouses:

  • A widow or widower who has reached their own full retirement age can receive 100% of the deceased’s benefit.
  • A widow or widower who is between age 60 and full retirement age can receive 71.5% to 99% of that benefit.
  • A disabled widow or widower, age 50 through 59, can receive 71.5%.
  • A widow or widower of any age who’s caring for a child under age 16 can receive 75%.
  • Divorced spouses, if they qualify, can receive the same percentages as widows and widowers.

For children and dependents:

  • Children under 18 (or 19, if still attending primary or secondary school) and disabled dependent children can receive 75% of the deceased’s benefit.
  • A surviving dependent parent can receive 82.5% of the benefit.
  • If two dependent parents survive, they can collect 75% each.

The takeaway

Survivor benefit amounts are based on the survivor’s relationship to the deceased and other considerations. If you are a surviving spouse, you are eligible to collect a reduced benefit as early as age 60. But you must wait until your own full retirement age to collect the maximum 100% benefit.  For maximum benefits and minimum stress, Registered Social Security Analysts® have the education and training provided by NARSSA (the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts), to help you collect all of the benefits you may be entitled to. Schedule an appointment.

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Talk with a Registered Social Security Analyst — a trained expert for a free, no-obligation consultation. If you decide to engage the RSSA, you’ll receive a comprehensive personalized analysis and advice that may provide you with thousands or tens of thousands more in lifetime benefits.