You probably know people who are receiving Social Security survivors’ benefits because they're a widow or widower. At present, there are about 5 million widows and widowers receiving monthly Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse's earnings record.
Whether or not a surviving spouse is eligible for Social Security survivor benefits depends on age and circumstances. In general, a widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled) is eligible provided (s)he was married at least nine months.
It is far preferable that both spouses learn what the survivor will collect in Social Security benefits while both are living. ... After the first spouse dies, the survivor can then collect 100 percent of the deceased spouse's benefit as long as (s)he is also at full retirement age.
The survivor benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more (s)he paid into Social Security, the higher the benefit will be. The monthly amount one receives is a percentage of the deceased's basic Social Security benefit.
In June 2017, the average Social Security benefit was $1,404 per month. The maximum possible benefit for a worker retiring at age 66 in 2018 is $2,788. But to get this amount, the worker would need to earn the maximum taxable amount, currently $106,800, each year after age 21.
Many divorced or widowed seniors receive Social Security through their former spouse’s Social Security account, and remarriage can affect benefits. ... However, if you are a widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse who remarries after age 60, you are entitled to benefits on your prior deceased spouse's Social Security earnings record.