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Social Security: Avoid penalties when your spouse dies

Planning for your retirement includes understanding your Social Security benefits and getting the most you can out of them in the long run.

social security application for spousal benefits

Your spouse passing away could have a direct impact on what you’ve planned with your benefits financially.

One thing to remember is you cannot collect your own Social Security benefits in addition to your deceased spouse’s.

You will be paid the greater of the two.


SSDI: What you need to know about spousal benefits?

Studies show that 3.7 million Americans do not have their own Social Security and collect through their deceased spouse.

Most people see benefits that are close to the same amount their spouse was receiving.

In order to collect it, spouses need to have been married for at least 9 months prior to death and be at least 60 years old.


Sometimes there could be penalties or ways to lose benefits if you do not plan.

How to plan for full Social Security benefits in the event of your spouse dying

The first thing you should be sure of is that your spouse does not start collecting benefits until their full retirement age.

Collecting before your full retirement age results in less benefits each month.


This means when you die, your spouse will get less in benefits to live on.

You also want to avoid claiming survivors benefits before your own full retirement age.

You can claim them as early as age 60, or 50 if you are disabled.

If you choose to do this, you will see benefits reduced by a large amount.

The reduction can range from 71.5% to 99%.

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