Ask Terry Questions survivor benefit – spouse social security

survivor benefit – spouse social security

By Terry Savage on June 17, 2024 | Wild Card

I’m 75. Not really a question but heard you on WGN a few weeks ago (LOVE listening to you!!!) and you talked to a caller about being eligible for survivor benefits from SS. My husband passed October 2023 and we were both state of Illinois retirees – my career was almost all higher ed and he worked in the private sector for 16 years and for a community college for his last 16 and retired from Elgin Community College. His pension (partial after death), my pension, a small IMRF, and small reduced SS because my state earnings were in Illinois equals roughly 75K per year (this includes an amount withheld for federal taxes.)

Anyway, when I called SS after SURS provided their amount I woud receive, SS did some calculation and determined that I was NOT eligible for survivor’s benefits because my household income was too high. I didn’t question it but I thought I understood your information that everyone was eligible for survivor benefits. I do okay and have about 500K with investments and some cash reserves but not sure if I should check again with SS about survivor benefits. I guess all they could tell me is the same thing again but wonder if you have a suggestion, advice and/or who or how to contact if I was told something incorrectly. Lord knows, I’ve heard the tales in the book you wrote about SS goof-ups so just want to double check with you. Thanks!

Terry Says

SS routinely gives out WRONG information about benefits.  Yes, there is an offset. And yes, your own benefits might be higher than your late husband’s.  But the ONLY way to make sure you are getting the correct information is to use Calculate Your Highest Benefits | Maximize My Social Security

The $49 cost will be well worth it if your benefit increases as a result of this.  Please write back and let me know about your experience.



a personal
finance question