What Happens to Social Security Benefits When You Die?

Social Security benefits serve as financial support for many Americans, providing a safety net during retirement. While the paychecks continue during your lifetime, it’s important to understand what happens to Social Security when you die. Survivor benefits may be available for loved ones, and there is a one-time death benefit that will be paid out after your passing.

Claiming benefits before your full retirement age will result in a reduced monthly amount, and that lower figure will be passed on to the survivor at your time of death. However, if you wait, the higher amount will be sent to the survivor, provided they are full retirement age or older. “More times than I can count, I’ve encountered higher earning spouses that wanted to begin drawing Social Security benefits early, primarily due to concerns about not living long enough to warrant delaying benefits for several years,” says Stephen Barns, a financial advisor at Prime Capital Investment Advisors in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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