We review the specific document from the Social Security Administration that discusses Survivor benefits. Below we’re going to post verbatim highlights from the document…
You definitely want to read this yourself. There is A LOT going on here. So think this through before doing anything rash. It’s very important:
How To Apply For Social Security Survivor Benefits
“You cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online. We should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies.
In most cases, the funeral home will report the person’s death to us. You should give the funeral home the deceased person’s Social Security number if you want them to make the report.
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death and any later months.
Who Receives Survivor Benefits?
Certain family members may be eligible to receive monthly benefits, including:
A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances;
A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on their record;
An unmarried child of the deceased who is:
Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or
Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.
Widow(er) Of Covered Worker
If you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can:
receive full benefits at full retirement age for survivors or reduced benefits as early as age 60.
If you qualify for retirement benefits on your own record, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62.
What If You Remarry?
If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), your remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits.
A few other situations:
If you already receive benefits as a spouse, your benefit will automatically convert to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death.
If you are also eligible for retirement benefits (but haven’t applied yet), you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other (higher) benefit at a later date.
For those already receiving retirement benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the retirement benefit you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor.
If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you may be able to withdraw your retirement application and apply for survivors benefits only. If you do that, you can reapply for the retirement benefits at a later date when they will be higher.
Surviving Divorced Spouse
If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, you could get benefits the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more.
Benefits paid to you as a surviving divorced spouse won’t affect the benefit amount for other survivors getting benefits on the worker’s record.
If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), the remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits.
Switch To Your Own Benefit?
If you receive benefits as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you are eligible for retirement benefits and your retirement rate is higher than your rate as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse.
In many cases, a widow or widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate.”