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Understanding Social Security Survivor Benefits

Many of today’s consumers don’t even realize Social Security offers survivor Benefits. This is due largely to the fact that the Social Security Administration’s Office is directly responsible for offering information to the general public, and it isn’t in their best interest to teach people how to maximize their benefits. Those who want to ensure their Social Security Survivor receives the benefits he or she both needs and deserves may want to read on to find out more about how they work.

Who Gets Benefits?
These benefits are paid to spouses of workers who have passed away. To be eligible to receive benefits, widows or widowers must have been married for at least nine months, although there are some exceptions. Ex-spouses who were married for at least ten years and qualifying children may also be eligible to receive Benefit pay.

How Much Does it Pay?
Widows, widowers, and qualifying children are eligible to receive 100% of the benefit amount their late spouse or parent was receiving as long as they file for benefits at or after their own legal retirement ages. Keep in mind that filing before full retirement age will almost always reduce the amount of money these benefits will provide. It’s also important to note that, if a spouse dies before he or she has begun claiming benefits, payments should be calculated as though the spouse had reached full retirement age.

What are Serial Benefits?
It is not possible to take both personal survival and personal Social Security benefits at the same time, but it is possible to raise lifetime income by taking them serially. Widows and widowers can switch their survivor or their own retirement benefits to a later age to receive higher payments later. Readers should realize, however, that they must restrict their applications to just one of these benefits from the beginning so they will not be considered to have applied for both benefits at once.

How Can Readers Collect?
Readers should notify the SSA as soon as possible after their spouses have passed away. This is important because benefits usually start from the time of application, not the time of death. Those who are already collecting retirement benefits should speak with a representative to sort out their options.