Social Security Benefits for Surviving Spouses: What You Need to Know

Dear Miami, Florida: A concerned friend inquiring about the Social Security benefits for his 71-year-old friend, who will be starting chemotherapy, wants to know what benefits his 60-year-old fiancée is entitled to after his death.

In the United States, Social Security benefits for surviving spouses depend on various factors, including the state of residence and the duration of the relationship. If the couple lives in one of the states that recognize common-law marriage, such as Colorado, Iowa, or Utah, then the fiancée may be entitled to survivor benefits as a spouse. However, if they do not live in one of these states, then the fiancee will not be entitled to any survivor benefits, unless they are legally married for at least nine months.

Furthermore, if the couple chooses to get married and the marriage lasts for at least nine months, the wife will be entitled to normal benefits as a surviving spouse. However, if the marriage does not last at least nine months, or if they do not get married, the friend’s partner will not be entitled to any survivor benefits.

It is important to note that surviving spouses can claim benefits as early as age 60, but these benefits will be reduced if claimed before full retirement age. They can also choose to delay claiming in order to receive a higher percentage of the deceased’s benefit amount.

Ultimately, there are specific rules and regulations regarding Social Security benefits for surviving spouses, and it is crucial for the friend and his fiancee to understand their options and plan accordingly. Therefore, seeking advice from a Social Security advisor or legal professional would be highly recommended in this situation.