One financial planning issue that all married couples will need to deal with during retirement is the loss of one Social Security check due to the passing of one of the spouses.
I often get questions about how this actually works in real life. In our article, let’s discuss how Social Security survivorship works under different circumstances.
IF THE SURVIVING SPOUSE IS UNDER FULL RETIREMENT AGE
If the surviving spouse is under full retirement age and the survivor elects to begin the survivor benefit, it will be reduced due to early claiming. The surviving spouse is entitled to whichever benefit is higher…their own or the decedent’s. Planning options are available to a surviving spouse to coordinate using their own benefit and the decedent’s benefit over time.
A surviving spouse Social Security benefit does not earn delayed credits after full retirement age and so there is not any benefit to delaying them to beyond the survivors full retirement age.
IF THE SURVIVING SPOUSE IS AT OR BEYOND FULL RETIREMENT AGE
Once a surviving spouse is at or beyond full retirement age, they will receive 100% of the survivor benefit, assuming that it is higher than their own. In essence, the survivor retains the higher of the two Social Security benefits available.
IF THE SURVIVING SPOUSE REMARRIES
If a survivor remarries after the age of 60, they will have a choice of which Social Security benefit they elect. They have the choice of their own benefit, their survivor benefit (from the previous marriage), or the spousal benefit on the current spouse, whichever is highest.
If remarriage occurs before the age of 60, the survivor only has the option of choosing between their own worker benefit and their current spousal benefit, whichever one is higher.
If you have any questions, Please feel free to contact me.