If your spouse passed away, you’re eligible for Social Security Survivor Benefits. As long as you had been married for at least nine months (the nine month requirement is waived if you are taking care of the deceased spouse’s child that’s under the age of 16). 

We understand that this is a difficult time and it’s common for most people to avoid thinking about these sort of things soon after a loved one passes away. However, most likely your spouse has paid in a certain amount of social security and don’t feel bad for receiving benefits from your spouses previous labor. It’s one of the reasons social security is there.

You can start collecting monthly survivor benefits as early as age 60. At this age you will only receive around 70% of the benefits. If you want to receive the full benefit you can wait until full retirement age which is around age 67 for most people. It can be a little complicated to know how and if you qualify.

How do I know if I qualify?

A few ways that you could get benefits at an earlier age.

  • If you are a disabled surviving spouse you can start receiving survivor benefits as early as age 50
  • Caring for the child of a deceased spouse will allow you to start collecting 75% of monthly benefits at any age
  • Children who are under the age of 18 can also receive benefits 75% of benefits
  • You are also eligible to collect a one-time death benefit payment of $255 at any age
  • You will qualify for survivor benefits if you are an ex-spouse and had been married for over 10 years

When is the best time to start taking benefits?

For helpful information to help you decided the best time to start taking social security survivor benefits you can look at the Widows, Widowers & Other Survivors page on the Social Securities website.

If your goal is to minimize longevity risk, which is the risk of outliving your money, you will want to consider a strategy that gives you the most lifetime income.

You can also speak with one of our financial planners who can help you decide when the best time to start taking benefits and how to apply.

How do I apply?

To apply for benefits on the Social Security website, you will need a few documents to complete the application:

  • Proof of death
  • Social security number and that of the deceased person
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate — if you are a widow or widower
  • Children’s social security numbers and birth certificates (if applicable)
  • Most recent tax return
  • Bank account information

If you would like help getting your survivor benefits in order and making sure you’re getting the maximum amount possible, reach out to us at [email protected] or call us at (888) 826 – 4287. We have experienced financial planners as well as estate attorneys here to answer your questions.  

Scott Henderson

Financial Planner

Scott Henderson

Financial Planner

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