Can a Widow Collect Her Husband’s Social Security in Pennsylvania or NJ?

If your husband or wife was receiving Social Security benefits, you should talk to an experienced disability lawyer in Pennsylvania or New Jersey about applying for survivors benefits or Social Security disability.

According to the AARP, about 6 million Americans currently receive survivors benefits, which are benefits paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to eligible widows, widowers, and other family members after a wage earner passes away. Survivors benefits are intended to help compensate for some of the decedent’s wages, easing the financial pressure on surviving spouses and children. Alternately, disabled widows and widowers may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If you are a widow or widower, you may be eligible for disability or survivors benefits, which are calculated based on factors we will review in this article.

After a spouse’s death, learn about the disability benefits available to you as a surviving widow or widower. For a free case evaluation with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, call today at (215) 515-2954 or (609) 557-3081.

About Social Security Surviving Spouse Benefits

If your spouse recently passed, and you relied on their monthly disability benefit to support yourself and your family, you may be wondering if you’re entitled to that benefit after their death. To learn more about your options as a widow or widower, speak with our Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers.

The SSA provides many different types of benefits, which can cause confusion for those who are unfamiliar with the system. For example, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for disabled workers, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides benefits for children and low-income individuals who do not have an employment history. The following types of benefits may also be available to widows and widowers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey:

  • Survivors benefits – Survivors benefits are for certain widows and widowers whose spouses or ex-spouses were collecting or entitled to Social Security benefits prior to death.
  • Widow or Widower Disability Benefits – Widower or widow benefits are for widows or widowers who have a serious, long-term health condition, meaning a disabling condition that has lasted or is expected to last for a minimum of one year.

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for either benefit type as a widow or widower in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Our attorneys can assess your deceased spouse’s benefit type and your current medical conditions to determine what you may be able to recover through Social Security benefits.

At What Age Can a Widow Collect Her Husband’s Social Security Benefits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?

A widow or widower must generally be at least 60 years old in order to receive survivors benefits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In some cases, benefits may be awarded at a younger age. For example, if the widow or widower is disabled, the age threshold drops from 60 to 50.

In certain cases, the benefit amount may be reduced for younger widows or widowers. The SSA may reduce benefits by fractions of a percent for each month prior to the full retirement age (which currently ranges from 66 to 67, depending on the individual’s date of birth).

As the SSA explains, “There are disadvantages and advantages to taking survivors benefits before full retirement age.” The sooner you begin, the earlier you will receive benefits, but the smaller the amounts may be. If you wait longer to apply for benefits, you will not receive them as soon, but the amount you receive may be larger. You should weigh your options carefully with an experienced attorney, like the Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, who can help you make a strategic decision that fits your situation.

How Much of Her Husband’s Social Security Can a Widow Get in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?

Our Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability attorneys are often asked the question, “how much Social Security does a surviving spouse get?” The answer is different for everyone, because it depends on a few variables. Factors that impact the amount of benefits that a widow or widower can receive include his or her age, the decedent’s primary insurance amount (PIA), and the decedent’s age when he or she passed away.

Your spouse’s PIA, which is one of the factors that impacts your benefits, refers to how much he or she would have been awarded in benefits upon reaching the full retirement age. As of 2019, the full retirement age is as follows:

  • 66 years, for individuals born from 1943 to 1954
  • 66 years and two months, for individuals born in 1955
  • Between 66 years and two months and 67 years, for individuals born from 1956 to 1959
  • 67 years, for individuals who were born in 1960 or later

You may be entitled to up to 82.5% of your spouse’s PIA, or in some cases, even the full 100%, though this amount may be reduced depending on whether or not you have reached the full retirement age, along with other factors. Refer to the list above to determine your full retirement age.

It’s also important to note that you cannot simultaneously receive the full amount of widow or widower benefits and your own benefits. Some people start with one type of benefit, then later change to the other. Any strategy should be reviewed carefully with an experienced disability benefits lawyer, who can provide you with in-depth, personalized legal guidance.

How Can a Widow or Widower Recover Social Security Benefits After a Spouse’s Death?

If your spouse recently died, leaving you without an income from their Social Security benefits, reach out to our attorneys immediately. There are certain steps survivors must take to continue receiving the proper monthly payments from the Social Security Administration.

Hire Our Attorneys

Suppose your spouse received monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. If they recently died, you should contact our Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers right away. Many widows and widowers may be unaware that they are eligible for survivors benefits from the SSA after a spouse’s death. If your spouse received disability benefits, it is important to learn your eligibility for continued payments as a widow or widower so that you can recover the monthly benefit you deserve from the SSA.

Inform the SSA

After a disability recipient’s death in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, a surviving widow or widower must immediately inform the Social Security Administration. While you may be entitled to survivors benefits as a widow or widower, your monthly benefit may differ from your spouse’s previous benefit. There are processes the SSA has to follow to calculate your new benefit and name you, the survivor, as a recipient, instead of your deceased spouse. Failing to inform the SSA of a spouse’s death and continuing to cash checks in their name might result in serious consequences for widows and widowers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Calculate Your New Benefit

Depending on several factors, such as your age, your monthly disability benefit may differ from the benefit your spouse received while they were alive. It is important for widows and widowers to contact our Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers to estimate their new benefits. While the Social Security Administration should have the necessary information on hand to determine your survivors benefit amount, processing errors and other issues might result in a discrepancy. Our attorneys can determine the monthly amount you’re entitled to as a widow or widower so that you can continue to support your family after a spouse’s death.

Can Widows and Widowers Collect Multiple Disability Benefits in New Jersey and Pennsylvania?

If you and your spouse are both disabled and both receive Social Security disability payments, and they pass away, can you then collect their previous benefit? This is common issue widows and widowers face in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our attorneys can help you figure out your new monthly benefit as a surviving spouse as a disability benefit recipient in your own right.

Suppose you and your spouse are both disabled and receive disability. In the event that your spouse passes away, can you collect your normal disability benefit on top of survivors benefits? The answer, depending on your age, might be yes.

In these cases, surviving disabled spouses continue receiving their full monthly benefit. The additional funds they receive through survivors benefits will be the difference between their full disability and full survivors benefits. For example, suppose you personally receive a disability benefit of $1,500 a month from the SSA. Then, suppose your survivors benefit after a spouse’s death equals $1,000. In that case, you might receive an additional $500 a month in survivors benefits and your $1,500 disability benefit, equaling $2,000 a month.

You can continue to collect both benefits until you reach retirement age in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Then, your disability benefit will turn into retirement benefits, and you can receive either survivor or retirement benefits, whichever amount is greater.

Can a Widow Collect Her Husband’s Social Security Benefits if She Remarries?

When a spouse who received disability benefits dies, a widow or widower may be entitled to survivors benefits from the Social Security Administration. Eligibility for benefits is based on several factors, one being a widow or widower’s decision to remarry.

If your spouse died and you began receiving survivors benefits, that may change if you choose to remarry. Remarrying after a spouse’s death can cause you to forfeit your right to survivors benefits upon reaching age 60 in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, or 50 if you have a disability.

Essentially, widows and widowers that remarry before reaching 60 are likely to lose access to survivors benefits through a deceased spouse’s previous Social Security benefit. Those that remarry at age 60 or older may face no consequences for their decision and can continue receiving monthly benefits. This can be confusing for widows and widowers processing a spouse’s death and thinking about their futures. To understand how this rule might affect your access to survivors benefits, contact our Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers.

Can You Collect Survivors Benefits Through an Ex-Spouse in New Jersey or Pennsylvania?

In some cases, divorced spouses can collect survivors benefits after an ex-spouse dies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Reach out to our attorneys to learn more about the eligibility requirements for recovering benefits through an ex-spouse’s earning record.

Divorce can be a complicated matter for more reasons than one. But how might it impact your eligibility for survivors benefits in New Jersey and Pennsylvania? Though it may surprise some, surviving divorced spouses may be entitled to survivors benefits from the Social Security Administration.

If you were married to a previous spouse for more than ten years, and they were receiving disability benefits when they died, you may be able to recover survivors benefits. Those married to a spouse for ten years are entitled to benefits in the same way that a surviving spouse might be in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In most cases, a divorced spouse receiving survivors benefits should not affect the benefits surviving spouses, children, or other eligible persons might receive. If you remarry before 60, you will become ineligible for survivors benefits as a divorced spouse in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Suppose you are a surviving divorced spouse with a disabled child under the age of 16 that recovered benefits through a deceased divorced spouse’s earning record. If you can prove that your child is the natural or legally adopted child of a deceased divorced spouse, you do not have to meet the SSA’s length-of-marriage rule to qualify for survivors benefits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Our NJ + PA Disability Lawyers Can Help You File for Social Security Benefits

At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, we have more than 30 years of experience assisting widows and widowers with Social Security claims, including SSDI claims. With 12 conveniently located offices, we provide free legal consultations for Social Security applicants and beneficiaries throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Contact us online today, or call our law offices at (215) 515-2954 or (609) 557-3081 to see how we can help you and your loved ones collect the full benefits that you are entitled to. Your initial case evaluation is free of charge, and we will keep your information confidential.

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