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Social Security survivor benefits can offset income lost by death

The loss of a spouse can be emotionally and financially devastating. While nothing can bring back a loved one, Social Security survivor benefits can help some spouses ease the loss of income caused by a loved one’s passing.

Do you qualify?

As a widow or widower, you may qualify to receive monthly payments if your spouse worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits your spouse needed to have for you to be eligible for benefits depends on how old your spouse was when he or she died. However, no one needs more than 10 years of work to be eligible for any Social Security benefit.

Your age may also affect your eligibility. If you are at least 60 years old, you can receive reduced benefits. However, if you wait until you are at full retirement age, you can receive full benefits. Retirement age for survivors is 66 for people born between 1945 and 1956. The age gradually increases for those born later.

Your eligibility for benefits may also be impacted if you remarry before you turn 60 years old, or if you are already receiving Social payments on your own work record. However, even if you do not meet the standard requirements, your situation may still qualify you for benefits. Some special circumstances may be if you are disabled or if you are caring for your spouse’s children who are 16 years old or younger.

What you may receive

The amount of benefits you may receive depend on your spouse’s earnings. The more money he or she paid in to Social Security, the more money you can receive. Your potential monthly payment would be a percentage of what your spouse’s basic Social Security benefit would have been.

However, you might not be the only person eligible to receive survivor benefits, and there is a limit to the amount a family can receive per month. Typically, this amount is between 150 and 180 percent of what your spouse’s basic benefit would have been.

Survivor benefits can help relieve the loss of income you may experience after your spouse’s death. However, every situation is unique. If needed, a professional may be able to help you determine what benefits apply to your situation and guide you through the process of obtaining them.

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