Social Security: Survivor Benefits Question
by Wendy, Retirement Enthusiast/Coach
I've been in the retirement/senior field for twenty-five years when employed and over ten years retired -- and guess what? Did you already know Social Security increases, in some manner, if your benefit is lesser, and the spouse dies first?
This is NEWS to me!
A friend, Donna, called and asked what her sister-in-law would get from Social Security now that her husband had died. She is in her 70s, which is important because the answer is different, if not full retirement age.
Social Security Site: "For those already receiving retirement benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a surviving spouse if the retirement benefit you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor."
There are three possible answers:
1) Remain as is, no change
2) Get an increase in SS payment
3) Get his payment amount now instead of your lower amount
I have worked with thousands of retirees, yet I have never had anyone ask this question! Moreover, I never heard this issue talked about in Social Security talks at conferences.
As I researched it more, it appears if you don't know about this and don't apply, you remain as is. This is my mothers issue right now, we never knew to ask for an increased benefit when her husband (my stepdad) died 1.5 years ago!
You must apply for an increased Social Security payment if you get less than your spouse and they die.
From SS site:
"These are examples of the benefits that survivors may receive:
Surviving spouse, full retirement age or older — 100% of the deceased worker's benefit amount.
Surviving spouse, age 60 — through full retirement age — 71½ to 99% of the deceased worker's basic amount."
Now, if I read other parts of the SS site, it sounds like you get the full benefit OR you do not, only a percentage of it. Unfortunately, I can't seem to make heads or tails of this question, so:
I am applying for my mother to get an increased benefit. We shall see what happens. Did we wait too long? I don't know!
The reason I am posting this is for your input.
Have you or your family members applied for this benefit?
Do you know the answer to full benefit or partial benefit?
Just very curious!
I will keep you updated!