Here are the 10 Social Security rules Widows and Widowers need to know.
To say Social Security is complex is an understatement. There are dozens of rules for several different scenarios. There are rules if you collect a government pension, rules if you work and earn money, rules if you remarry before 60 and after 60. Trying to understand all these Social Security rules is like peeling an onion, lots and lots of layers. Here to help, I've drilled down the rules into my top 10 for Widows. If you are a widow or widower, here's the bare minimum you need to know about Social Security and Survivor benefits:
1. No one needs to work more than 10 years to qualify for benefits
2. You can't file for Survivor benefits online, you need to call or visit a Social Security office
3. Survivors are eligible to collect at age 60, but this will be a reduced benefit, possibly by 70%, depending on your Full Retirement Age.
4. Remarried after 60 doesn't effect your Survivor benefit, but before 60 it does. If you get remarried before 60 your Survivor benefit stops.
5. You can collect the Survivor's benefit then switch to your own retirement benefit at the earliest age 62. However, before your Full Retirement Age your benefit is reduced. You might be better off waiting to collect your Retirement benefit till your Full Retirement Age so the benefit not reduced. Confused? Call me and we can discuss.
6. If you are working while collecting Social Security Survivor or Retirement benefits prior to your Full Retirement Age, your benefit may be reduced depending on how much you earn. Earnings can also increase your benefit.
7. If you were entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you may be able to withdraw your application and apply for Survivor benefits only. If so, you can reapply for retirement benefits later. Delaying benefits helps your benefit grow.
8. Survivor benefits may be reduced by a government pension.
9. Survivors at any age can receive benefits if caring for a deceased spouse's child under the age of 16, however the benefit may be reduced.
10. Hold onto that check - if the deceased was receiving benefits, you must return the benefit for the month he or she deceased.
Planner's tip: Apply as soon as possible for Survivor benefits if you plan on collecting, as benefits may be paid from time of application not date of death.
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Email me at Mike@SurvivorPlanning.com to learn more.