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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 for survivors born between 1945 and 1956 and will gradually rise 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.

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