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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on May 29, 2012.

Question

My father passed away in 97-98 and it was just brought to my attention that my sister and I or my mother even though they were divorced could be entitled to death benefits. Is this true and how would I go about finding out. Any help you can give would be very helpful.
Thank you,

Answer

Social Security provides benefits for the survivors of a worker who dies.  A surviving spouse can claim a retirement benefit as early as age 60.  As long as the marriage lasted at least 10 years, your mother might be able to get benefits even though she was divorced when your father died.  Be aware that if she claims a benefit before reaching her Social Security full retirement age, she might lose some of her benefits based on her earnings from employment and/or reduce the benefit that she would ultimately be able to receive if she waits until she is older to start receiving retirement benefits.  

Minor children and disabled children of a deceased worker are also entitled to a survivors benefit.  This is a monthly payment payment based on the decedent's work history.  These survivors benefits, unlike the retirement benefits, are typically not retroactive and can be lost if you do not file a claim.  So it would be important for you to apply for these benefits as quickly as possible if you think you might qualify.  You can visit their website at www.ssa.gov   for some important information on how to file. 


For additional information visit http://www.360financialliteracy.org/