This blog post was written by Student Advisory Council member, Meadow Hall.
Losing a loved one is difficult, and handling their finances can be an added burden. We are here to help. If your loved one was receiving Social Security or was eligible for Social Security, you may be entitled to receiving their survivor benefits.
What are Social Security survivor benefits?
Survivor benefits come from some of the taxes paid into Social Security. The worker who passed must have been working long enough to receive benefits, and you must be eligible to receive the survivor benefits. The survivor benefits are calculated based on the earnings of the deceased and your relationship with the deceased. Some examples are as follows:
- Widow/Widower (at or above full retirement age) receives 100% of the survivor benefit amount.
- Widow/Widower (age 60 to full retirement age) receives 71.5%-99% of the survivor benefit amount.
- Disabled widow/widower (age 50-59) receives 71.5% of the survivor benefit amount.
- Widow/Widower (any age, caring for a child under 16) receives 75% of the survivor benefit amount.
- A child under 18 (or 19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or disabled receives 75% of the survivor benefit amount.
- Dependent parent of deceased worker, age 62 or older, receives 82.5% of the survivor benefit amount.
- If there are two parents of deceased worker, age 62 or older, they each receive 75% of the survivor benefit amount.
Who can receive survivor benefits?
- A widow/widower aged 60 or older (50 or older if disabled)
- A divorced spouse (under certain circumstances)
- A widow/widower of any age if they are caring for the child of the deceased and the child is under 16 years old
- An unmarried child of the deceased aged 18 or younger (or aged 19 or older if they are still in elementary or secondary school)
- An unmarried child of the deceased aged 18 or older if they have a disability onset prior to their 22nd birthday.
- A stepchild, grandchild, or adopted child (under certain conditions)
- Parent(s) of the deceased if they were dependent on the deceased for more than 50% of their support (under certain conditions)
If you think you may be entitled to survivor benefits and do not see your circumstances above, please see here or talk to your local Social Security office for more information.
What if the survivor is working?
Unfortunately, if the survivor is working there are also limits to what they can receive from these benefits depending on how much they earn already.
If you are younger than the full retirement age then $1 will be deducted from your survivor benefits for every $2 you earn over the yearly limit. The yearly limit for 2021 is $18,960.
As soon as you are full retirement age, $1 will be deducted from your survivor benefits for every $3 you earn over a different yearly limit. This different yearly limit for 2021 is $50,520. For more information about these deductions, see How We Deduct Earnings From Benefits.
We understand that Social Security survivor benefits are confusing, and that there are a lot of details that can change the amount you receive. We are here to help you through financial counseling resources like our partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness, which offers free certified financial advice to HUECU members. You can also go to your local Social Security office, where all of this information (and more) is available.