It’s important to know why a spouse may not be entitled to his or her husband or wife’s Social Security survivor’s benefits. Not all spouses can receive these benefits if his or her partner’s earnings were qualified. If Social Security has no income basis for the surviving spouse, and he or she says he worked but didn’t pay Social Security tax, Social Security Administration is likely to deny the survivor’s claim to Social Security benefits.
The length of time he or she was married to the primary beneficiary can also impact SSA’s approval of Social Security survivor’s benefits. Social Security doesn’t allow surviving spouses, children, or parents to apply for survivor’s benefits online at My Social Security Account. Report the beneficiary’s death as soon as possible to Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit a local Social Security field office.
GPO and Social Security Survivor’s Benefits
For instance, a male primary earner receives a larger Social Security retirement benefit than his wife. If the wife earned an income but didn’t pay required Social Security tax over the years, he or she probably won’t be able to claim survivors benefits if her husband dies. That’s because Social Security Administration (SSA) has no income basis for the surviving spouse. If the wife had paid Social Security tax over the years, she’d receive the larger of two Social Security retirement benefits.
In some instances, the surviving spouse’s ability to claim survivor’s benefits is quashed by the GPO, or government pension offset:
The GPO prevents the surviving spouse from receiving larger benefits than others who paid their fair share of Social Security taxes over time.
If the surviving spouse receives a government pension (out of the Social Security system), SSA prevents her from receiving a greater than typical survivor’s income.
GPO reduces the surviving spouse’s benefits by about two-thirds to compensate for this effect.
Of course, if the surviving spouse paid Social Security tax over the years, SSA pays the larger of the two benefits. SSA won’t allow the surviving spouse in that case to claim both benefits. If her pension is large enough to eliminate the SSA survivor’s benefit, her claim to access survivor’s benefits will be denied.
Marriage Term and Social Security Survivor’s Benefits
SSA offers Social Security survivor’s benefits to the deceased primary beneficiary’s surviving husband, wife, or children. Survivors must meet SSA’s guidelines and requirements in order to qualify for survivor’s benefits. For instance, both surviving spouse and children of a deceased beneficiary who committed suicide can claim survivor’s benefits in most cases. There is a single exception to this rule.
Social Security pays the beneficiary’s family a single payment of USD 255 and continues to pay monthly survivor’s benefits if the spouse and children meet SSA requirements. The survivor’s benefit is calculated according to how much the deceased individual paid into Social Security as Social Security tax and how much he earned over a lifetime.
Spouse’s Age and Social Security Survivor’s Benefits
Social Security is a social insurance program that provides financial stability for older and disabled people. To qualify for survivor’s benefits:
The decedent’s spouse must be a minimum of 60 years old (or age 50 if he or she is disabled; or any age if he or she cares for the primary beneficiary’s child of 16 years or less).
A divorced spouse can also claim survivor’s benefits from the former deceased spouse if the marriage term was at least 10 years.
Children may also collect survivor’s benefits if his or her parent committed suicide. He or she must be less than 18 years old but no older than 19 if enrolled in high school full-time. If the decedent’s child became disabled before reaching 22 years of age, the child can collect survivor’s benefits throughout the duration of the disability.
Parents of the deceased Social Security beneficiary can also claim survivor’s benefits if he, she, or they were dependent on a son or daughter’s income and are at least 62 years old.
Social Security prevents a surviving spouse from collecting Social Security benefits (when his or her spouse committed suicide) in at least one scenario. SSA requires that the couple’s marriage lasted a minimum of nine months before the beneficiary committed suicide. If he or she committed suicide before nine months from the date of marriage, the survivor spouse can’t claim survivor’s benefits.