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Can I collect my deceased spouse’s Social Security and my own at the same time?

Social Security will not combine a late spouse's benefit and your own and pay you both. When you are eligible for two benefits, such as a survivor benefit and a retirement payment, Social Security doesn’t add them together but rather pays you the higher of the two amounts.

If that’s the retirement benefit, then the retirement benefit is all you’ll get. If the survivor benefit is higher, Social Security pays the retirement benefit first and tops it up to match the amount of the survivor benefit.

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Whether that survivor benefit exceeds your own Social Security payment will depend on the amount of your late spouse’s benefit and your own age and family situation. You are entitled to:

  • 100 percent of the deceased’s benefit if you have reached your full retirement age. (That's 66 and 2 months for survivors born in 1957, 66 and 4 months for those born in 1958 and gradually rising to 67 over the next several years.)
  • 71.5 percent to 99 percent if you are between 60 — in most cases, the earliest you can draw survivor benefits — and full retirement age. (If you are disabled, the minimum age is 50.)
  • 75 percent if you are caring for a child from the marriage who is under 16 or disabled, regardless of your own age.

How Taxes Affect Your Social Security Payments

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How does the government fund Social Security? When does it tax your benefits? How do other sources of income like work or retirement account distributions affect your liability? Join this free webinar to hear from experts how Social Security taxes work, how they impact your payments and what you can do to reduce your tax bill.

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