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Overview of Social Security Survivor Benefits

Social Security survivor benefits can be a welcomed and much needed source of income when a loved one dies. Dunn attorneys regularly witness just how crucial Social Security benefits for widows can be when their spouses pass. This brief overview of benefits can help point you in the right direction as you research available benefits. 

Applying for Social Security Survivor Benefits 

If you are not currently receiving benefits, you can apply for benefits via telephone or in-person at the local Social Security office. The nearest office for Dunn residents is located in Fayetteville. 

When you apply for Social Security benefits for widows, you’ll need to have the following handy: 

  • your spouse’s death certificate;
  • Social Security numbers for you, your spouse, and any dependent children;
  • your and any dependent children’s birth certificates;
  • your marriage certificate (or divorce papers if applicable);
  • your spouse’s most recent tax returns; and
  • your bank account information for  direct deposits. 

If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, your benefits may simply be changed to survivor's benefits when you report your spouse's death to the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

Calculating SSDI Payments 

The amount of Social Security survivor benefits you may be eligible for depends on whether or not you have any dependants and your age. In some cases, a spouse's own benefits may be higher than a deceased spouse's disability benefits, and may pick the higher benefit. 

The percentage of your spouse’s benefit payment that you may be eligible to receive ranges from 71.5 percent (for spouses over age 60, but not yet retirement age) to 100 percent (for spouses that are already at full retirement age). 

It’s also important to note there is a family cap on the amount of Social Security survivor benefits they can receive, generally ranging from 120 – 150 percent of your spouse’s benefit amount. 

Addressing Common Concerns 

Payments to disabled workers reached $10.4 billion in 2011, according to the statistical information provided by the SSA. Many people are concerned about the details of applying and receiving Social Security survivor benefits, such as how remarriage and employment may affect their monthly payments. 

There are several concerns you may have about Social Security benefits for widows: 

  • When/How Payments are Issued – Payments are generally issued via direct deposit according to your date of birth. If your birthday falls on the first through the tenth day of the month, for example, you’ll receive your benefit payment on the second Wednesday of the month.
  • Remarriage – Generally, you cannot collect SSDI survivor payments if you remarry before the age of 60.
  • Employment – Your benefits may be reduced if you work and your wages are higher than a certain specified limit. 

Important Details about Social Security Benefits for Widows 

Additionally, there are a few important facts you’ll want to be aware of, namely: 

  • you may have to file taxes on your benefits (if you file as an individual and your income is more than $25,000/year);
  • in some cases, widow’s benefits may start from the date you apply, not from the date your spouse passed; and
  • you do have the right to appeal the decision made on your claim, as well as the right to legal representation, such as that of a Social Security benefits attorney in Dunn. 

Finances can become strained and difficult to manage after a loved one dies. There are a lot of emotional issues in situations like these, and losing his or her income may place a financial strain on a family or surviving spouse. It’s important to understand the Social Security survivor benefits you and your family may be eligible to receive when you use a Social Security benefits lawyer at Brent Adams & Associates, (800) 273-6823.