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Howard Kossover: Social Security survivor benefits could change if widow goes back to work

Q: What are Social Security mother and father benefits?

A: These are Social Security survivor benefits to a surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse based on having a child of the deceased in their care. 

Mother and father benefits may be paid to a surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse regardless of age, if she or he is currently unmarried and has a young child under age 16, or a disabled adult child, of the deceased in their care, and the child is entitled to benefits on that deceased parent’s record. 

Mother and father survivor benefits are usually paid to widows and widowers who are younger than retirement age.

Similar benefits are payable to the spouse of a person receiving SSA retirement or disability benefits if children are involved, but not to a former spouse.

Create a personal my Social Security account to see estimated family benefit amounts on your SSA Statement.

Learn more at the Benefits and my Social Security sections of the SSA website, www.socialsecurity.gov.  

Q: My ex-husband recently died and his new wife is already getting survivor benefits. Will Social Security contact me too?

A: You should contact Social Security about possible benefits.

Do not assume that SSA representatives know about you or how to reach you. 

Requirements as a surviving divorced spouse, the SSA name for potential benefits to you, include that the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years, you are not currently married, you are at least age 60 if based on age, and that you are not eligible for higher SSA benefits on another record.

Both widow(ers) and surviving divorced spouses might receive benefits as early as age 50 if disabled due to a disability that started before or within seven years of the worker’s death.

Payment to a surviving divorced spouse based on age or disability does not affect amounts to other family members getting survivors benefits on the same record.

Contact Social Security about possible benefits when a family member dies.

Call the SSA national number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or your local office.

Did you know? Correcting your name on your Social Security card is easy, free, and can be completed by mail.  Learn evidence needed and download the application from the Numbers & Cards section of the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.

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