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Social Security
Test your knowledge about Social Security survivors' benefits
By Chuck Stovall, assistant manager for the Social Security Administration, New Albany, Ind.
                                                                                                                       October 11, 2006      

Few people realize that their Social Security survivors' insurance is probably worth more than any life insurance they have through work or a private insurance company. And, it is insurance protection that almost every American worker who pays into Social Security has. Your spouse and dependent children would have a base of financial protection should something happen to you, and it is important to know about it. The following questions are designed to help you find out how much you know about your Social Security survivors insurance protection:


1. If you die before reaching retirement
            age, your child(ren) can
  receive   Social   Security   survivors'
              benefits until age:
  A.   21
  B.   18, or 19 if still in secondary
              school full time
  C. 16
2. If your spouse dies and you are
  childless   or   your   children   are
  grown, you can receive a survivor's
              benefits at age:
  A.   60, or age 50 if disabled
  B.   62, or age 60 if disabled
  C.   65, or age 62 if disabled
3. If you are divorced and your exhusband
                or   ex-wife   dies,   you
  can receive survivors' benefit on
  your     ex-spouse's     earnings
  record if:
  A.   The marriage lasted 20
  B.   The marriage lasted 10
  C.   The marriage lasted 5 years
4. If your surviving spouse remarries,
            benefit   payments   would
  stop unless he/she is:
  A.   Age 60 or older

  B.   Age 55 or older
  C.   Age 62 or older
5. The   average   monthly   Social
  Security survivors' benefit payment
            for a widow or widower
  with two children is:
  A.   About $1,000
  B.   About $1,500
  C.   About $2,000


ANSWERS 1. B-A surviving child could receive benefits up to age 18, or 19 if still in secondary school full time, or longer if disabled. A child who is disabled before age 22 could receive child's benefits as long as he or she remains disabled and does not marry. 2. A-A widow(er) can receive benefits at age 60, or age 50 if disabled. Widow(er)s disabled at age 50 or later may qualify for a disability benefit on their deceased spouse's earnings. 3. B-Surviving divorced spouses who have been married 10 years have the same benefit rights and receive the same basic benefit amount as current surviving spouses. (The benefit of the surviving divorced spouse will not affect those of the current spouse.) 4. A-At age 60, a surviving spouse can remarry and not lose eligibility for Social Security benefits. 5. C-In 2006, the average monthly survivors benefit payment for a widow/widower with two children is $2,074.

For more information about Social Security survivors benefits visit www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/ index.htm or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication, Survivors Benefits.                              (SeniorARK adds that the listed link appears to have changed. The correct link is: http://www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/index.htm )

Chuck Stovall is assistant manager for the Social Security Administration, New Albany, Ind. If you have questions about Social Security, e-mail him at charlesjstovall@ ssa.gov. Or, call your local Social Security Office.


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