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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Feb 8, 2012.

Question

My husband was killed a car accident almost 3 years ago. He was 60 years old at the time. When can I apply for his social security survivor benefits?

Answer

Please contact your local Social Security office and make an appointment to review your specific situation. Make sure you have your husband''s date of birth and SSN. They can review the account to see how much he has paid into Social Secuirty and verify your eligibility for benefits.

If you have children under the age of 18 (or 19 if they are still in high school), they can be elgible to receive the Social Security benefits. If they were entitled benefits earlier, you can apply for retroactive benefits.

Your eligbility is going to depend upon your age. You can receive reduced benefits at age 60 or full benefits at your full retirement age (which may be age 66). You should carefully evaluate this decision to see if it makes sense to take the benefits early or wait.

If you remarry after age 60, your eligibility for benefits will not be affected.

If you take care of a child under age 16 (and not remarried), you can receive survivor benefits at any age.

Please accept my most sincere condolences. These rules can be complicated.

If you want to read up on this before your meeting with Social Security, you can get a copy of Publication 10084.

You can download a .pdf at http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10084.pdf


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