You may not know what happens with social security benefits when you die, or you might believe these benefits will cease upon your death. In reality, Social Security can help take care of your family after your passing.
"If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of the taxes you pay go toward survivors insurance," explains the Social Security Administration. "In fact, if you currently have life insurance, the value of your private policy is probably less than the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security."
Social Security and Credits
Depending on how much you made during your working years, your spouse and children could be eligible for benefits after your passing. Earned credits vary each year and are adjusted for inflation. For 2016, earning $1,260 gives you one credit, with up to four credits available each year.
You need at least 40 credits to qualify for social security benefits upon retirement, but your spouse and children would still receive benefits even if you pass away before reaching that mark.
According to the Social Security Administration, your surviving dependents "can get benefits if you have credit for one and one-half years of work (6 credits) in the three years just before your death."
Retirement Benefits for Widows
If you pass away while receiving social security benefits, your spouse may be able to collect survivor benefits based on your earnings during your working life. However, he or she cannot collect these benefits. in addition to any social security disability or retirement benefits he or she already receives.
That said, your surviving spouse will have the option to collect benefits based on whichever is most advantageous.
Benefits for Your Children
In some cases, your children may be eligible to receive benefits based on your social security earnings, if under 18 years of age or up to 19 if enrolled in school full-time.
In addition, if you have a child who is disabled, he or she may be able to receive benefits based on your social security earnings after his or her 18th birthday. Of course, the child may also qualify for social security disability in his or her own right.
The rules governing social security benefits and beneficiaries are very complex; however, you can talk with a local Social Security representative to understand more about your particular situation and how your spouse or dependents will be financially affected by your passing.
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