Dear Retirement Adviser,
I was separated, but not divorced from my husband, when he passed away. My young daughter is receiving Social Security payments. I am 51 and I have a full-time job. He was collecting Social Security at age 63 when he passed away. When our daughter turns 18, will these benefits end? Will I still get survivors benefits if I stay employed? Thank you,
— Melissa Mulls
Your daughter will most likely stop receiving Social Security benefits when she turns 18. The two primary exceptions to this are if she is still a full-time elementary or secondary school student, or if she is disabled. Post-secondary or college student status doesn’t qualify for the continuation of these benefits.
Since you didn’t mention it, I presume neither you nor your daughter is disabled. As a widow caring for a child younger than 16, you are eligible for a survivors benefit, too. This would be true even if you were his surviving divorced widow. If you are working, however, that benefit would be reduced. Since you are below the age of full retirement, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefit payment for every $2 you earn above the annual earnings limit. In 2013, that earnings ceiling is $15,120.
If you remarry before age 60, you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married. If you remarry after age 60, you will continue to qualify for benefits based upon your deceased spouse’s Social Security earnings history.
There are a lot of choices involving benefits if you remarry after age 60. If that’s the case, contact your Social Security office to discuss benefit options.
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