WHAT YOU CAN RECEIVE IF YOU ARE A SPOUSE OR FORMER SPOUSE OF SOMEONE ENTITLED TO SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
Determining what benefits one is entitled to under Social Security can be confusing! Most of us are familiar with the retirement benefits disbursed by Social Security, although most of us are surprised about how little it is compared to what we need! If you’re over 60 years old, you probably grew up believing that when you retired, you would be able to live on your Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, that is usually not true. Many of us are somewhat familiar with “widow’s benefits” (Survivors Benefits), but, did you know there are benefits available if your spouse is not deceased or you are a former spouse?
Let’s start with retirement benefits:
Remember, the earliest a widow or widower can start receiving Social Security survivors benefits based on age will remain age 60.
- If you start receiving survivors benefits at age 60, you will get 71.5 percent of the monthly benefit because you will be getting benefits for an additional 72 months;
- 62, you will get 81.0 percent of the monthly benefit because you will be getting benefits for an additional 48 months;
- 65, you will get 95.3 percent of the monthly benefit because you will be getting benefits for an additional 12 months.
If you are age 62, unmarried, and divorced from someone entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on his or her record. To be eligible, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can’t collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death. Also, if you’re entitled to benefits on your own record, your benefit amount must be less than you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. In other words, Social Security will pay the higher of the two benefits for which you’re eligible, but not both.
You can apply for benefits on your former spouse’s record even if he or she hasn’t retired, as long as you divorced at least two years before applying. If, however, you decide to wait until full retirement age to apply as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be equal to half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement amount or disability benefit. The same rules apply to a deceased former spouse. The amount of benefits you get has no effect on the benefits of your ex-spouse and his or her current spouse.
Next, survivors benefits:
Your survivors benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more they paid into Social Security, the higher your benefits would be. The monthly amount you would get is a percentage of the deceased’s basic Social Security benefit. It depends on your age and the type of benefit you are eligible to receive.
These are examples of the benefits that survivors may receive:
- Widow or widower, full retirement age or older — 100 percent of the deceased worker’s benefit amount;
- Widow or widower, age 60 — full retirement age — 71½ to 99 percent of the deceased worker’s basic amount;
- Disabled widow or widower aged 50 through 59 — 71½ percent;
- Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 — 75 percent;
- A child under age 18 (19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or disabled — 75 percent; and
- Dependent parent(s) of the deceased worker, age 62 or older:
- One surviving parent — 82½ percent.
- Two surviving parents — 75 percent to each parent.
Percentages for a surviving divorced spouse would be the same as above.
Many people, both men, and women are entitled to benefits about which they are unaware. There are others who choose not to seek benefits because they are concerned it will reduce the benefits that a former spouse is receiving, and they don’t want to “rock the boat.” In today’s economy, many of us who are mature struggle to make ends meet, and that’s not what God intends for any of us! Apply for the benefits to which you are entitled and give praise to God because they’re available!
Ex-Spouse Benefits and How They Affect You. https://blog.ssa.gov/ex-spouse-benefits-and-how-they-affect-you/; https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/applying7.html
Benefit Plan or: Survivors/If You Are a Survivor. https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou.html#h6
Thank you so much, Jenna. If you still have questions regarding your specific situation regarding Social Security Survivor Benefits, please email Jenna Lopes, Attorney at Law at