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Survivors benefits come from the Social Security Administration, so be sure to immediately visit the local Social Security office after receiving your late spouse's death certificate.

Typically, you must be 60 to take survivors benefits on behalf of a deceased spouse. However, in the event that your spouse dies while you are young, your children can receive these same retirement benefits, until they are 18.

Be mindful of the gap of years between a child turning 16, and the surviving spouse reaching 60, as there are no social security benefits during that gap.

As the legal guardian, you will receive these monthly social security benefits to care for your child until they are 16. After that point, the child receives the benefits in his own name until he is 18.

Social Security Checklist

  1. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can contact the SSA over the phone or in-person at a local office to find out which benefits you may qualify for.

  2. Bring all SS cards, death certificates etc.

  3. Register for the death benefit. As of 2020, this is a $255 death benefit to help you pay for funeral expenses.

  4. Sign up your children for survivor's benefits.

  5. See if you, personally, qualify for benefits. Normally, if you are under the age of 60, you can only qualify for Social Security widow(er) benefits if you are raising children and under a certain income threshold.

Taxation for Widows

Finally, widows are also in a special tax category. The year your spouse dies, you can file as married filing jointly. During the next two years, you can file as a qualifying widow if you have qualifying children at home. This helps you save money, compared to filing as single.


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