Widow Benefits Help

Widow benefits helpIf you are worried about your income after your partner passes or have been thrust into a situation where you have lost your spouse, understanding how widow benefits works is important in shoring up your finances. It is important to understand the eligibility criteria, how the process works and how much you may receive. There are currently about 5 million people that receive the widow or widower benefit, which helps to keep many Americans out of financial ruin and poverty.

If you are currently going through the widower or survivor benefits process but need financial assistance prior to the acceptance, try a free financial counselor or your local community action agency. In addition, this website has a range of resource and information on how to get help with bills, medication and other everyday living expenses.

Widow or Widower
Under social security there is a provision for surviving spouses to receive a benefit after their partner’s death dependent on their work and employment record. These survivors are eligible to receive reduced benefits at age 60 and full benefits at full retirement age or anytime afterwards. If your surviving partner is disabled or becomes disabled within 7 years of your death they also become eligible for these benefits but at the age of 50. Survivors must apply directly with Social Security and cannot do so online. You must contact them at 1-800-772-1213 and get an appointment to open an application.

Furthermore if your surviving spouse cares for your child who is also under the age of 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on your record they are eligible for benefits at any age. If your surviving spouse remarries after the age of 60 it will not affect their survivor benefit.

Survivor Benefits
The benefits that your survivor receives is fully dependent upon your average lifetime earnings and is calculated for a basic amount as if you reached full retirement age at the time of your death. The higher your lifetime earnings the more the benefit is worth. Also the maximum benefit is limited to what you would have received in benefits if you were alive. The benefit amounts range in percentages based on your personal situation. If you are a widow or widower of full retirement age your benefit would be 100%. Between the ages of 60 to full retirement age it is pro-rated from 71 and a half to 99 percent depending on your age, and the 71 and a half percent is the lowest survivor benefit awarded. The maximum for families does provide a range from 150-180% of the award rate.

The Social Security government run website provides an in-depth bank of calculators for you to discover what you can expect for your survivor benefit. These benefits can also be affected especially if you earn over the limit allowed while receiving the benefit. Under full retirement age limit is $15,720 per year and over the full retirement age the limit increases to $41,880. The benefits can also be affected by marriage status. If you remarry before the age of 60 years of age you will lose your survivor benefit, however if married after the age of 60 the survivor will continue to receive the benefit. If your living spouse qualifies for other retirement benefits they can switch to these benefits as early as 62 years of age, assuming these benefits are greater than the survivor benefit.

Providing for your widow or widower depends on a number of factors that are taken into account at the time of your death as laid out above.