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Can Dad still receive Mom's social security after she dies?

1 answer | Last updated: May 27, 2015
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is in a nursing home and my 80 year old father is still at home. He still receives her Social Security and her small retirement pension under what they call "spousal dependency". She is on Medicaid. His check is the smallest of the three. My question is, when Mama dies, which is imminent, can he still draw that money?

Thank You, we live in Georgia


Caring.com User - Joseph L.  Matthews
Caring.com Expert
Joseph L. Matthews is a Caring.com Expert, an attorney, and the author of Long-Term Care: How to Plan & Pay for It and...
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A fellow caregiver answered...

If your father is now collecting Social Securitydependents benefits (sometimes called spousal benefits) based on your mother's Social Security retirement payment, he is probably getting about half the amount See also:
Social Security Increase: Will It Be Enough for Your Parent?
she collects in Social Security retirement benefits. That arrangement will change when she dies. When you or your father notify Social Security of your mother's death (with a copy of the death certificate), they will switch your father to Social Security survivors benefits, which is equal to the amount that your mother is now getting in retirement benefits. In other words, his Social Security benefits will double (or nearly). But there will then only be one Social Security payment, to your father.

Whether similar survivors benefits will be available to your father from your mother's private pension program depends entirely on the terms of the pension itself. Many pension programs have spousal survivors benefits similar to those paid by Social Security, but not all do. Some pension programs have a lump-sum death benefit, paid when the retired worker dies. To find out whether there will be any type of survivors benefit paid to your father from your mother's pension program, you need to contact the pension program itself. You can probably find contact information for the pension program in your mother's papers, including the yearly tax information papers sent to her by the program.