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Ask Kim

How to Claim Social Security Survivor Benefits

You may need to make some changes to assure a higher payout.

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My husband and I were both receiving Social Security benefits when he died recently. Do I need to apply for survivor benefits, or will I get them automatically? --N.D., Dallas

See Also: Social Security for Surviving Spouses

If you’re already getting benefits on your husband’s record, you generally don’t need to apply for survivor benefits; Social Security automatically makes the change. But if you are receiving benefits on your own record, you’ll need to file in order to switch to survivor benefits. You can get them as early as age 60, but they’re reduced if you’re not yet full retirement age (now 66). See www.ssa.gov/survivors.

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