Sam and Alice had been married for forty five years when Sam passed away. Sam was collecting Social Security retirement benefits at the time of his death.
ISSUE: Alice had been a housewife all her life and had never paid Social Security taxes. Alice wanted to know whether or not she would be entitled to continue to receive the Social Security benefits that her husband Sam was receiving before his death.
ANSWER: Yes. Alice would be able to receive the benefits. But the amount that she will receive will depend upon her age. If she is already at retirement age, and in this case retirement age for Alice would be sixty five years old, she will get 100% of her deceased husband\’s benefit. A widow or widower between sixty years old and full retirement would receive a reduced amount though.
Normally, Social Security is considered an â€œearned benefitâ€ and in order to collect it, a worker must pay into the system for at least ten years. Alice, being the spouse of an eligible worker, is one of the exceptions. Only legal residents though can collect Social Security benefits.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.