Your Guide to Social Security Survivor Benefits in Worthington, OH

June 02nd @ 11:12 am

Discover what Social Security survivor benefits are, how they’re calculated, if you qualify, and how you can apply!

When it comes to Social Security, most think about the monthly payouts they’ll receive after retiring. However, the agency is responsible for disbursing a handful of other benefits, including survivor benefits. These benefits provide millions of Americans the financial security they need after losing a spouse or close family member. Like with many aspects related to Social Security, there’s a lot to wrap your head around when it comes to these payments. Below, we’ll guide you through some of the most common questions and concerns surrounding Social Security survivor benefits in Worthington, OH, and beyond.

Defining Social Security Survivor and Spouse Benefits

Social Security survivor benefits, sometimes referred to as widower’s benefits, are monthly financial support payments made to eligible family members of a deceased person who previously worked and paid into Social Security. Widowers, ex-spouses, children, and other dependents are the most common beneficiaries. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines these monthly benefit payment amounts based on your age, relationship to the deceased spouse or guardian, and their lifetime earnings collected. Generally speaking, higher lifetime earnings often equates to higher survivor benefit amounts. We’ll discuss how they’re calculated and how you can qualify and apply below in more depth.

How Do You Know if You Qualify for Survivor Benefits?

If you’re a surviving spouse at least 60 years old or are at least 50 living with a disability, you can start collecting Social Security survivor benefits if your marriage lasted for at least nine months. Likewise, you also qualify to begin collecting spousal benefits at any age if you’re caring for a child of the deceased spouse who’s either under 16 or has a disability.

Eligible family members may additionally receive survivor benefits. To qualify, you must be a(n):

  • Minor or disabled child: Survivor benefits are available to children under 18 years of age or full-time students enrolled in school under the age of 19. Additionally, if you have a disability diagnosed before you were 22 years old, you may be entitled to benefits.
  • Grandchild, stepchild, or step-grandchild
  • Dependent parent: Given that you’re at least 62 years of age or older, and your individual Social Security benefits do not exceed that of your survivor benefits, you may be eligible.
  • Ex-spouse: Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you may qualify for survivor benefits.

How Can You Apply for Survivor Benefits?

You can apply for Social Security survivor benefits if you fall under one of the above family member categories. Most individuals apply online, call the SSA directly, or head into a local Social Security office. To move forward with the application process, you’ll need both your and your deceased family member’s Social Security numbers on hand. Other necessary documentation may be requested as well, including your birth certificate, tax return information, and marriage certificate or divorce decree.

How are Survivor Benefits Calculated?

To receive survivor benefits, you must meet certain eligibility requirements in advance. Survivor benefits are only paid out to those with a deceased spouse or family member who has worked a set number of years and has additionally earned enough accumulated credits. Credits are earned every quarter a certain earning amount is met. For example, in 2021, one credit is obtained for every $1,470 earned, totaling up to $5,880 annually. Every year, this set dollar amount fluctuates to adjust for inflation.

The number of credits needed for you to receive survivor benefits depends on how old your spouse or family member was at death. Credit requirements increase with age. However, 40 earned credits is the maximum amount needed, regardless of age. Typically, the average individual needs to remain employed and pay Social Security taxes for no less than ten years to meet these requirements.

Lifetime earnings will dictate benefit amounts. As mentioned previously, the more earned, the higher your survivor’s benefit will be. Benefit amounts also are directly influenced by the age at which your spouse or family member starts collecting. If Social Security collection begins prior to full retirement age and ultimately leads to a lower payout, any benefits you receive will reflect that reduced amount.

Social Security survivor benefits prove beneficial and can extend support and financial security if your spouse or loved one passes away. Nonetheless, like many aspects of Social Security, they can get complex and even confusing at times. If you need guidance after experiencing a loss or want to prepare in advance, Royal Oak Financial Group is here to assist. Our team of income and Social Security planning experts can walk you through a strategy to better ensure your financial goals are accounted for. Contact us today to get started!


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