The Social Security Survivor Benefit can be paid to the dependents of a deceased worker. That's a great gift to all of us, to know our family has an income if an unexpected death happens to our family provider.
Survivors benefits are paid to widow and widowers, and dependent children, upon the person's early death. The amount paid depends on the deceased workers earnings... calculated as if the person was age 62 upon death.
Remarriage after Spouse's Death and Social Security
You can remarry and still collect your deceased spouses benefit, as follows:
Age 60: Earliest Benefit for Spouse
At age 60, the surviving spouse can begin to receive the deceased spouses benefit... so some survivors retire early, because they can!
Age 62: Check with Social Security
At age 62, the surviving spouse should check with Social Security to see if they should continue receive to their Social Security Survivor Benefit (deceased spouse's benefit), or their own Social Security benefit.
Social Security will pay the greater benefit... but only if you ask! They don't go back to check every persons calculation... so make that call and ask questions.
This could apply to a new spouse's record.. maybe you draw early survivor benefits at age 60 based on your deceased spouses record. At age 62, you could begin to take payments from your own earnings record OR that of your current spouse -- whichever is the most to you.
Age 70: Ask questions!
One more thing, If you've worked a lifetime, like your spouse, ask what you would get at age 70. Social Security workers often tell you what your age 62 benefit is, and that's it... and folks are happy to get that increase.
However, if the deceased workers benefit is decent, and you've worked a long time too -- ask for YOUR age 70 benefit (especially if your family has a long life expectancy). Then keep the deceased workers benefit from 60-70, and THEN apply for your increase. Just an idea... age 70 will creep up on you, before you know it, and that nicely increased Social Security benefit, for the rest of your life, might be just worth waiting for!
Early Retirement of the Main Wage Earner
This example assumes the main wage earner dies first (the husband), and the wife hadn't worked full time for very many years. She did work some full time, lots of part time, but was mostly a stay at home mother, like so many women.
If the main wage earner (usually the man of the family) chooses to begin retirement benefits early, at age 62, and if he dies first, the spouse does receives his benefit -- but she gets his reduced age 62 benefit for the rest of her life.
If he had remained employed longer, without taking an early retirement and early Social Security payments, she would receive increased Social Security benefits for the rest of her life (especially since the surviving spouse is left with one Social Security income, not two).
It may not matter, if the deceased worker also left a pension to the spouse, but if the Social Security is the only income... working even a year or two past age 62, helps with a higher lifetime payment.