Social Security Part 5 – Survivor Benefits

Social Security Part 5 – Survivor Benefits

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Lethemon Financial, Bloomfield Hills, MI
William G. Lethemon III, owner of Lethemon Financial
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Let’s talk about survivor benefits.
If something happens to either you or your spouse, the survivor, will be entitled to receive the higher of the two Social Security Benefits. But they would lose the smaller of the benefits. This can be a pretty significant loss of income, that a lot of people don’t really think about.

The survivor benefit is always based on the actual amount your spouse was getting at the time they died. As opposed to spousal benefits which are based off the full retirement age amount.
Survivor benefits can be collected as early as age 60 with a 28.5% reduction. However, the survivor benefit will always be at least 82.5% of your spouses Primary insurance amount.

Here are a couple of other beneficiaries that can collect off your benefits.
Your Ex-Spouse and your unmarried child.

Your ex-spouse:
You can collect off of your ex spouses benefits as long as
– You are at least 62 years old
– Were married for at least 10 years
– You were divorced at least 2 years ago
– Your not currently married
– and your not entitled to an equal or higher benefit based on your own work record or someone else’s
– The benefits that you would be entitled to are exactly the same as if you were still married.

Your un-married child is entitled to receive 50% of your primary insurance amount as long as they are under 18 or under 19 and still in high school.

Changing your Mind:
What if your watching this and you think that you should have done something different. Or maybe your retirement plans changed and you decide to go back to work. Can you change your mind.

Yes. You can file what is called a withdrawal of application form with the Social Security Administration, state your reason for the withdrawal, and if they approve it, you can repay all the money you have received so far, and then delay your benefits and refile at a later date.

A lot of people were using this as an interest free loan from the government, then in December of 2010, they got smart and changed this rule.

Now, in order to file a withdrawal of application, you must do it within 12 months of when you got your first check, and you can only do it once in your life.

It may not be too late if you want to do something different.

One last thing, how to apply for your benefits.
You can apply online at and use their online Social Security benefits application.
You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or you can go into a social security office to apply in person. You can find a list of offices on their website to find one thats close to you. Its also a good idea to schedule an appointment.

Remember, you need to be at least 61 and 9 months old to apply for benefits, you should apply no more than 4 months before the month that you want your benefits to start.

If you’re already 62 or older, you may be able to start your benefits in the month that you apply.

Lastly, even if you are not going going to start collecting, be sure to at least sign up for Medicare before your 65th birthday. If you don’t you may get penalized.

Obviously there is a lot to think about. Social Security can be a great addition to your retirement. And a cornerstone to your retirement income. For years you have paid into this system, now its finally your turn to get something back. Let’s make sure you maximize it.

If you have questions, or if you would like us to run a social security analysis for you call our office. Even if its late at night, early in the morning or on a weekend, leave us a message, and someone from our office will call you the next business day.

I look forward to talking with you.


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