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

According to the AARP, about 6 million Americans currently receive survivor 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. Survivor 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 survivor benefits, which are calculated based on factors we will review in this article. 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 survivor benefits or Social Security disability.

About Social Security Surviving Spouse Benefits

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. There are also several types of benefits that may be available to widows and widowers, such as:

  • Survivor Benefits – Survivor 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.

At What Age Can a Widow Collect Her Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

A widow or widower must generally be at least 60 years old in order to receive survivor benefits. 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 disability lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, who can help you make a strategic decision that fits your situation.

How Much Does a Widow Get of Her Husband’s Social Security?

Our 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 widow or widower benefits and your own benefits. You will receive the larger of the two amounts, but not both together. 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.

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 to see how we can help you and your loved ones collect the full benefits that you are entitled to. Your initial consultation is free of charge, and we will keep your information confidential.

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