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No, you can’t collect two benefits at the same time

Don’t count on receiving a double payment if your spouse passes before you. If you’re entitled to both a retirement benefit and the survivors benefit, you’ll receive only one — the larger — of the two amounts.

If the surviving spouse is at full retirement age or older, they can receive 100% of the deceased's benefit amount. If they’re between 60 and full retirement age, they’ll get between 71.5% and 99%.

To offset any social security income losses when your spouse passes, consider purchasing life insurance.

By opting for term life insurance with SBLI you have access to features such as LegacyShield, which can ease your mind during end-of-life planning. SBLI’s LegacyShield is a streamlined dashboard where you can manage all your financial accounts, store documents and share final wishes all in one place.

With SBLI, you can protect your family's financial future with the support of professional advice, a simple online claims process and no medical exams required for term insurance

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In some circumstances, spouses can get survivor benefits before they turn 60

Disabled spouses 50 or older can be eligible, as can spouses of any age who are caring for a deceased person’s child younger than 16.

Incidentally, other family members may also be eligible for survivor benefits. Some examples include:

  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is under 18
  • A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild or adopted child
  • Parents of the deceased, 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support

If you’re unsure of what spousal benefits you qualify for and want to be prepared, WiserAdvisor can help.

WiserAdvisor is an online platform that connects you to vetted financial advisors. After filling in some information about yourself and your finances, WiserAdvisor matches you with two to three FINRA/SEC registered financial advisers who are best suited to help you with your financial goals.

You can view the advisors’ profiles, read past client reviews and book an initial consultation for free with no obligation to hire. With WiserAdvisor, you don’t have to worry about going it alone because you have their professional guidance as you embark on your retirement-planning journey.

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You can still get the benefit if you’re divorced, but not if you’re remarried before 60

A survivor can be an ex-spouse if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the ex-spouse is at least 60 years old (or 50, if disabled).

A surviving ex-spouse is eligible for the same benefit as the surviving spouse, but it won’t impact the surviving spouse’s ability to collect survivor benefits — they will both receive the amount they’re entitled to.

However, if the ex-spouse remarries before the age of 60, they become ineligible to collect survivor benefits unless the marriage ends.

In situations like these leave you ineligible for the benefit, having a solid life insurance plan with a platform such as SBLI, can take a weight off your shoulders and help you maintain financial stability.

There isn’t a time limit

There’s no time limit on claiming your survivor's benefits — and it could be in your best interest to wait. While you should report the death as soon as possible, you can decide when to claim survivor benefits based on what makes sense for your financial situation. For example, you may want to wait until you reach full retirement age, so you’re entitled to 100% of your late spouse’s benefit.

If one spouse earned considerably more than the other during their working life, it may make sense to delay filing for one benefit over the other. Avoid leaving money on the table by talking to a professional at Empower about the best strategy for your particular situation.

Empower is a unique digital suite of finance tools designed to help you stay on top of your finances — from investment strategies to budgeting and even wealth management. When you sign up for Empower, you can connect with one of their financial professionals to help build a personal strategy with your unique financial goals in mind. Empower’s team of professionals will help you make the most of your survivor’s benefits so you don’t have to tackle it all on your own.

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If your late spouse filed early, the widow(er)’s limit could help

If the late spouse filed early for Social Security, it means the surviving spouse will be limited to the resulting lower payout indefinitely. The widow(er)’s limit came about to offer some protection for spouses in this situation. Technically called RIB-LIM (which stands for retirement insurance benefit limit), the provision allows surviving spouses to collect up to 82.5% of the deceased’s full-retirement-age benefit.

Also important to know: if, at the time of death, the deceased hadn’t yet claimed Social Security, survivors are still eligible to receive benefits.

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Moneywise Editorial Team

The Moneywise Editorial Team is a group of passionate financial experts, seasoned journalists, and content creators who are deeply committed to providing unbiased, relevant, and accurate financial information. With years of combined industry experience, our team is dedicated to maintaining the highest journalistic standards and delivering informative and engaging content. From personal finance and investing to retirement planning and business finance, we cover a broad range of topics to suit the financial needs of our diverse readership. You can trust the Moneywise Editorial Team to empower you with the knowledge and tools necessary to make wise financial decisions.

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