Why Can't I Draw Anything From My Deceased Husband's Social Security?

Oct 17 2020 - 4:12pm

Why is it that I can not draw a dime from my deceased husbands pension after 29 years of marriage and he paid into Social Security? Why am I being penalized for working to help provide for our family and retiring with a pension after 32 years????? Where does his money go if not to me?????

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

The surviving member of a couple can only be paid up to the higher of a) their own benefit rate, or b) their deceased spouse's benefit rate, not both. Therefore, assuming that you're already drawing your own benefits, the only way that you could be eligible for any additional monthly survivor benefits is if your widow's rate is higher than your own benefit rate. The reason for that is simply because that is what's stated in the Social Security Act that was passed into law by Congress (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0401.html). Only Congress has the authority to amend Social Security's regulations, so any concerns about the law would best be directed to your representatives in Congress.

However, widow(er)'s can potentially qualify for a one-time death benefit of $255 regardless of how much their own benefit rate is, provided that they were living together with their spouse during the time leading up to their spouse's death (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0430.html). You would need to file an application to claim that benefit, though, so it sounds like you may need to contact Social Security to apply if you haven't already done so..

As for what happens to the money that your husband paid into Social Security, that money simply remains in the Social Security trust fund until it's used to pay Social Security benefits to people who qualify for them. The Social Security taxes that people pay are not placed in individual accounts like IRAs, and there's no guarantee that a person who pays Social Security taxes nor their survivors will ever be paid anything in return for paying those taxes..

Best, Jerry