D. Victor Pellegrino, Utica, New York, is an elder care attorney who has been “Protecting The Assets of Seniors and Their Families For Over Thirty Five Years” His helpful hints and knowledgeable notes are available at his Website and Facebook.
When a Relative Dies…what you need to know about Survivors Benefits can be very important. Listed Below are a few of the questions you might have at the time of a relatives death–
How do I apply for benefits?
If you are not currently getting Social Security benefits
You should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time the worker died.
You can apply by telephone or at any Social Security office. We will need certain information, but do not delay applying if you do not have everything. We will help you get what you need. We need either original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them.
The information we need includes:
•Proof of death—either from a funeral home or death certificate;
•Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased worker’s;
•Your birth certificate;
•Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower;
•Your divorce papers, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower;
•Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates;
•Deceased worker’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year; and
•The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.
If you are already getting Social Security benefits
If you are getting benefits as a wife or husband based on your spouse’s work, when you report the death to us, we will change your payments to survivors benefits. If we need more information, we will contact you.
If you are getting benefits based on your own work, call or visit us, and we will check to see if you can get more money as a widow or widower. If so, you will receive a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount. You will need to complete an application to switch to survivors benefits, and we will need to see your spouse’s death certificate.
How much will I receive?
The benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more the worker paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits will be.
Social Security uses the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount and calculates what percentage survivors are entitled to. The percentage depends on the survivors’ ages and relationship to the worker. If the person who died was receiving reduced benefits, your survivor’s benefit is based on that amount. Here are the most typical situations:
•A widow or widower, at full retirement age or older, generally receives 100 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount;
•A widow or widower, age 60 or older, but under full retirement age, receives about 71-99 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount; or
•A widow or widower, any age, with a child younger than age 16, receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount.
•Children receive 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount.
Maximum family benefits
There is a limit to the benefits that can be paid to you and other family members each month. The limit varies, but is generally between 150 and 180 percent of the deceased’s benefit amount.
D. Victor Pellegrino, Utica, New York, is an elder care attorney who has been “Protecting The Assets of Seniors and Their Families For Over Thirty Five Years”
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