DEFINITION OF SURVIVORS BENEFITS (FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY …NOT TO BE USED IN LITIGATION)
When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, certain members of the family may be eligible for survivors benefits.Up to ten years of work is needed to be eligible for benefits, depending on the person’s age at the time of death.
Who is eligible for survivors benefits
Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:
- A widow or widower — full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60
- A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50
- A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits
- Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
- Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
- Dependent parents age 62 or older
Note: If you are divorced, you may still qualify for survivors benefits.
Our Benefit Calculators can help you figure how much your benefits will be.
How divorce affects survivors benefits
If your divorced spouse dies, you can receive benefits as a widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or longer and you are age 60 or older (or age 50 if you are disabled.)
Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is 60 or older (age 50 if disabled) will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors receiving benefits.
If You’re the Worker’s Surviving Divorced Spouse
If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. (You would not have to meet this length-of-marriage rule if you are caring for a child under age 16 or disabled who is getting benefits on the record of your former spouse. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.)
Benefits paid to you as a surviving divorced spouse who meets the age or disability requirement as a widow or widower won’t affect the benefit rates for other survivors getting benefits on the worker’s record. However, if you are the surviving divorced mother or father who has the worker’s child under age 16 or disabled in your care, your benefit will affect the amount of the benefits of others on the worker’s record.
Please note: If you will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, your Social Security benefits as a survivor may be affected.
Select one of the links below to get additional information about
- benefits if you are the widow or widower.
- benefits if you are the worker’s minor or disabled child.
- how much your benefits would be.
If You Remarry
If you remarry before you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married.
If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), you will continue to qualify for benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record.
However, if your current spouse is a Social Security beneficiary, you may want to apply for spouse’s benefits on his or her record. If that amount is more than your widow’s or widower’s benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount.
How retirement affects survivors benefits
If you are collecting survivors benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits (assuming you are eligible and your retirement rate is higher than the widow/widower’s rate) as early as age 62.
In many cases, you can begin receiving reduced benefits either on your own or your spouse’s record at age 62 and then switch to the other benefit when you reach full retirement age, if that amount is higher.
|Maximum Family Amount
There’s a limit to the amount that family members can receive each month. The limit varies, but it is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of the basic benefit rate.
If the sum of the benefits payable to family members is greater than this limit, the benefits will be reduced proportionately. (Any benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse based on disability or age won’t count toward this maximum amount.)
Noncovered Pension May Affect Spouse or Widow/Widower Benefit
If you will receive a pension for work not covered by Social Security (such as government employment), any Social Security benefits you may be eligible to receive on your spouse’s record may be reduced. This type of benefit reduction is called Government Pension Offset (GPO).
If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.
The GPO will reduce the amount of your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. For example, if you receive a monthly civil service pension of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefits. If you are eligible for a $500 spouse’s benefit, you will receive $100 per month from Social Security ($500 – $400 = $100).
Some individuals are exempt from the offset.
The Government Pension Offset (GPO) fact sheet provides more information about why the offset exists and how it works.
For more information please visit http://www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou3.htm
ATTORNEY ADVERTISING: Information herein and is not intended to be, legal advice. This sample legal document is provided as part of a free public educational service by Zachary Irtaza Riyaz, Esq., attorney at law in the State of New York (Westhampton – Tel. 516-234-0348), for reference only. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE ABOUT A SPECIFIC LEGAL PROBLEM, NOR DOES IT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. Due to the importance of the individual facts of every case, the generalizations I make may not necessarily be applicable to any particular case. Statutes and codes such as Domestic Relations Law (DRL)are frequently amended and may affect the validity of the above legal document and no representation is made that the above sample is going to be enforceable in the future.Changes in the law could at any time make parts of this web site content obsolete. Updated statutes and codes may be available at the New York State Legislature Website. No statute or sample legal document should be relied on without understanding controlling case law which may further interpret it. THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT IF LEGAL ADVICE IS REQUIRED THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT ATTORNEY WILL BE CONSULTED.