According to Darcy Bergen, who has been a financial planner for over two decades, Social Security benefits always bring some confusion in his clients. For those approaching retirement age who have recently lost a spouse, the confusion and uncertainty can be even greater. Even though every month, 59 million people receive Social Security Benefits, there is still a lot of information Americans don’t know. What happens when a surviving spouse wants to claim the Social Security benefits of their deceased spouse? Darcy Bergen offers an overview of how to use the Social Security benefits of a deceased spouse.
In order to qualify for Social Security benefits of their deceased spouse, the surviving spouse has to show evidence the marriage was at least nine months long. According to Darcy Bergen, the deceased spouse should have had also worked long enough to accumulate Social Security benefits. Those who meet these basic requirements can collect widower/widow Social Security benefits.
When Can Surviving Spouses Start Collecting?
Surviving spouses have to wait until they’re at least 60 years old to receive their Social Security survivor benefits. According to Darcy Bergen, they will only get 70% of the benefit at this age. They will have to wait until they reach full retirement age to receive the full benefit. The retirement age is 66 for those born between 1945-1956. It’s expected to increase to age 67 for those born in 1962 and later.
However, Darcy Bergen explains there are a few age exemptions. For example, those who are disabled can start collecting the survivor benefit as early as age 50. Those surviving spouses who care for the child of their deceased spouse who is under the age of 16, can collect the benefits at any age.
How Much Do Surviving Spouses Get?
According to Darcy Bergen, the exact monthly dollar amount surviving spouses can collect will depend on how much their deceased spouse collected over their lifetime. If the deceased spouse never collected any Social Security benefits, then they will be eligible for the full amount once they reach retirement age.
Social Security Benefit Exceptions
Darcy Bergen advises the surviving spouse that some exceptions could prevent them from collecting the benefits. For example, if a spouse remarries before turning 60 or 50 if disabled, they will lose their eligibility. Also, if the deceased spouse had any dependent children, there might be a limit on the amount disbursed per family.