En español | Not in the sense of getting both combined. When you are eligible for two Social Security 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.
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 (currently 66, 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.
Keep in mind
If you are already receiving a spousal benefit when your husband or wife dies, Social Security will in most cases convert it automatically to a survivor benefit once the death is reported. Otherwise, you will need to apply for survivor benefits by phone at 800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office.
Editor’s note: Local Social Security offices are currently closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Social Security services are available online and by phone. If you have a "dire need situation" regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment. See Social Security's coronavirus page or call your local office for more information.
Updated October 23, 2020
Find the answers to the most common Social Security questions such as when to claim, how to maximize your retirement benefits and more.