How Much Would My Husband Or I Be Paid If One Of Us Dies?

Jul 13 2020 - 12:27pm

Hi Larry,

I am 65, recently retired ss amount is 1224 a month
My husband is 73, his ss amount is 211.00. He receives spousal amt totalling 593.00 (the 211 is taken away). If either of us dies, how would survival or spousal benefit work for my husband? Would my husband be eligible and how much would he be eligible for? Would I lose any ss if he passes first? Thank you.


First, just to clarify, if your husband was drawing his own benefits when he filed for spousal benefits, his own benefits would not stop being paid. Instead, his excess spousal rate would be calculated by subtracting his primary insurance amount (PIA), or his PIA augmented by delayed retirement credits (DRC) if he started drawing after full retirement age (FRA), from 50% of your PIA. A person's PIA is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing at FRA. Assuming that amount is positive, the excess spousal rate would be paid in addition to his own rate. So, in other words, it sounds like what your husband now receives is his own benefit rate plus a partial spousal benefit.

The surviving member of a couple can only be paid the higher of their own benefit rate or their deceased spouse's rate. So, since your husband's rate is lower than your rate, if he dies first you'll just continue receiving your own rate. However, a widow(er) can potentially qualify for a one-time death benefit of $255 regardless of whose benefit rate was higher.

If you die first, your husband will be eligible for a combined benefit rate equal to 100% of your benefit rate. Basically, he'd continue receiving his own benefit and his partial spousal rate would convert to an excess widower benefit equal to the difference in his own rate and your rate. Thus, his total benefit would then add up to the full amount that you were drawing.

Best, Jerry