Social Security Survivor Benefits Planning for Widows and Widowers

by | Aug 22, 2023

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It can be sad and overwhelming to lose a loved one, leaving you feeling lost. Along with the emotional cost, it can be challenging to develop an action plan when the unexpected happens. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers survivor benefit programs for widows and widowers to lessen the burden during this difficult time. If a loved one has died and you are eligible for survivor benefits, it is crucial to take the time to understand your financial situation and create an action plan accordingly. 

What are the benefits?

After the loss of a loved one, it is important for survivors to understand their options for Social Security Survivor Benefits. These benefits may provide a source of income to those who have lost their spouse, allowing them to maintain some level of financial stability during this time. Surviving spouses must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for these benefits, such as being married for at least nine months before the deceased spouse passed away, being over 60 (or at least 50 if disabled), or if they are taking care of a child under 16 with disabilities who is receiving child benefits. 

How much will the Survivor receive?

The amount of survivor benefits received by a surviving spouse is generally based on the earnings record of the deceased spouse, as well as when the survivor decides to claim their benefit. When a survivor reaches full retirement age or older, they may be eligible for a survivor benefit equal to 100% of their deceased partner’s Social Security benefit. However, if the survivor chooses to claim survivor benefits before full retirement age, they will receive a reduced benefit of up to 71.5% of the original survivor benefit.

Planning Opportunities

When considering Social Security Survivor Benefits, it is important to understand the eligibility requirements, income limits, and other restrictions that may apply. 

Additionally, if you are employed when filing for survivor benefits some of your benefits may be temporarily withheld based on your income. If your own work benefit is higher than your survivor benefit, you might consider beginning survivor benefits as early as 60 while letting your own work benefit grow to 70. If your survivor benefit is higher than your own work benefit, you might consider beginning your own work benefit as early as 62 while delaying your survivor benefit to Full Retirement Age to maximize this benefit.

Understanding these guidelines can help you make the most of your Social Security Survivor Benefits from the system. Working with an experienced financial planner can also help you make sure that all of your wishes are carried out and that you receive the support you need in the event of an unforeseen loss.  

When it comes to Social Security Survivor Benefits, taking the necessary steps to plan for your future is a crucial part of ensuring your financial security. If you would like an experienced professional to help you navigate these important decisions, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your financial goals.

For more financial planning advice, you may also visit our website and read our blogs at Kreitler Financial