One of the greatest concerns of individuals receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits regards how their spouses can receive maximum spousal benefits in the event of their death; a topic which was explored in a recent USA Today article. For those who do not know, when claimants are receiving SSD benefits, their spouse may begin receiving support in an amount up to one-half of the claimant’s monthly allotted benefits as soon as the spouse turns 62. What many people do not realize is that these spousal benefits are replaced by survivor benefits in the event of the claimant’s death. Why is this significant?
Survivor Benefits vs. Spousal Benefits
Survivor benefits are different from spousal benefits in that they are subject to a 4.75% reduction per year past the survivor’s full retirement age. For example, if a person were to pass away when their spouse was age 63, their spouse’s survivor benefits would be reduced by 4.75% during the first year, 9.5% the following year, and so on. In order for a claimant to ensure that their spouse receives maximum survivor benefits at the time of their death, they may defer claiming benefits until age 70 in order to accumulate maximum delayed retirement credits. Unfortunately, due to modifications to Social Security laws implemented in 2015, suspending benefits and accumulating these delayed retirement credits now comes at the cost of a person’s husband or wife also losing their spousal benefits until collection restarts.
In other words, the only way to ensure that a surviving spouse claims maximum survivor benefits is for both spouses to live without any Social Security benefits from the time they reach full retirement age until age 70. For many households, this ultimately means choosing between current income and survivor benefits. This issue can become even more complex when a person starts claiming benefits early.
Ultimately, answering this question involves several different facets of SSD law and can be confusing to say the least. If you are unsure how your spouse’s benefits will be affected in the event of your death, the Reno Social Security Disability representatives at Disability Action Advocates are here to help. We have more than 20 years of proven legal experience and can provide the strong guidance you need to ensure your and your spouse’s best interests are guarded.
Call (888) 401-3920 or schedule an initial case review today to get started.