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Chapter 11. Social Security > Survivor’s Benefits

Survivor’s Benefits

Benefit payments can be made to the surviving spouses or even former spouses of deceased covered workers subject to many conditions. Retirement payments may be made to a widowed spouse of a deceased covered worker at age sixty, and ex-spouses of a deceased worker may receive benefits as early as age sixty-two. To qualify as a spouse to receive benefits, the surviving spouse must have been married to the covered worker for at least nine months and must not have remarried before reaching sixty years of age. The nine-month marriage requirement does not apply if the deceased spouse died as a result of an accident, died while on active duty in the military, or if the couple had been married to each other previously for nine months or more and later divorced. To qualify as an accidental death under this law, death must occur as a result of violent, external factors that produce bodily injuries that cause death independently of other causes; this would seem to eliminate the possibility of a gold digger marrying an old man and then scaring him to death. Pushing his wheelchair into traffic apparently would be O.K. as long as the death was deemed an accident.

The amount of Social Security benefit to which a surviving spouse is entitled is the full amount of the deceased spouse’s benefit amount if the surviving spouse is of full retirement age. A surviving spouse between the age of sixty and the age of full retirement receives between 71% and 94% of the deceased spouse’s benefits. However, double-dipping is not permitted by law, so if you were entitled to your own Social Security benefits in an amount greater than that which you would receive as a surviving spouse, you would be paid the larger of the two benefits for which you are eligible.


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