General public opinion had generated the belief that Social Security is designed exclusively for retirement. Contrary to this misconception, Social Security System offers a variety of programs that cater not only benefits for retiring individuals but also programs providing assistance for the disabled including their dependents.
This article focuses on Social Security program, particularly survivor’s benefits. More specifically, the article gives a thorough exposition of the fundamentals of Social Security survivor’s benefits claims.
Foremost, a brief discussion about Social Security survivor’s benefits is worthwhile.
Social Security survivor’s benefits are designed to provide the much-needed income to the surviving family members of a qualified decedent making their lives sustainable at least.
Not just anybody can apply for this kind of benefits. The Social Security Administration had provided constitutive requirements for a survivor benefit claims.
The survivor’s eligibility is gauged based on the decedent’s earning record showing his work, payment of social security taxes and earned work credits. The work credits are crucial in this respect because it would be made the basis for the survivor’s entitlement of this particular kind of social security benefit.
Worthy to note however, under a special rule, if you are only “currently insured” at the time of your death and relatively have only 6 credits in the 13 quarters prior to your death, your children and your spouse can still receive this benefits.
On the other hand, if you have determined your qualifications for benefits it would be wise to apply promptly, especially if you are not yet a recipient of social security benefits. This is for the reason that the benefits are paid from the time of application and not from the time that the worker died.
The application for benefits generally requires relevant information such as the following:
• the proof of death;
• Social Security number of the applicant as well as the deceased worker;
• marriage certificate if applying as a divorced widow or widower;
• dependent children’s social security numbers if available including their birth certificates;
• deceased worker’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year; and
• the name of the bank and account number of the applicant so that the benefits can be deposited directly in the account
Some of the requirements mentioned above can be dispensed with especially to those who have already received Social Security benefits. However, it is essential to report the death with the Social Security office so that update and changes of payment would be made.
With reference to the amount of survivor’s benefits, the same relatively depends on the earnings of the person who died. The more the worker paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits will be.
Take notice that, there is a limitation to the payment of benefits to the survivor members each month. The limit varies, but is generally between 150 and 180 percent of the deceased’s benefit amount.
More so, reduction of benefits can be halted on the following situations:
• To those who get a pension from work that was not covered by Social Security, like the federal civil service, your Social Security benefit may be reduced.
• Those who are working and have been receiving Social Security survivor’s benefits and are younger than full retirement age, the benefits may be reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits.
However, the reduction of benefits affects only the survivor concerned and not the benefits of other family members.
A special rule applies to those who remarry. Generally, widow or widower’s benefits are not given to those who remarry before age 60.
However, remarriage after age 60 (or age 50 if disabled) will not hold the survivor from getting benefit payments based on the latter’s former spouse’s work.
At age 62 or older, the survivor may get benefits based on his/ her new spouse’s work, if the benefits are higher.
Like any other claim under the whole spectrum of Social Security, claimants are given the right to dispute the findings or decision of the Social Security Administration.
An appeal, to be specific, is given to the claimants. The latter process entails complex situations that need another careful elaboration.
The key thing in all types of claims is the right of the claimant to confer with a Social Security lawyer of their choice.
For credible information and expert representation on your survivor benefits claim, log on to our website and seek the assistance of our Los Angeles Social Security attorneys.
Filed Under: Law