published Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Social Security: Survivor benefits from Social Security not always linked to your age

By Gregory Holmes
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    Gregory Holmes, district manager for Social Security

Q. My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don't I have to be retirement age to receive benefits?

A. No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication Survivors Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

Q. Will my military retirement affect my Social Security benefits?

A. No. You can get both Social Security benefits and military retirement. Generally, there is no offset of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement. You will get full benefits based on your earnings. The only way your Social Security benefit may be reduced is if you also receive a government pension based on a job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes. You can find more information in the publication Military Service and Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q. My daughter is 19 years old. In her senior year of high school, she had an accident that paralyzed her. It doesn't look like she will be able to work in the near future, and since she has never worked she hasn't paid Social Security taxes. Can Social Security still help her?

A. Your daughter may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI is a needs-based program paid for by general revenue taxes and run by Social Security. It helps provide monetary support to people who are disabled and who have not paid enough in Social Security taxes to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify for SSI, a person must be disabled, and have limited resources and income. For more information, visit our website and check out our publication, You May Be Able To Get SSI, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.

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