How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask LawTalk Your Own Question
LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 37058
Experience:  I have 30 years of legal and litigation experience, including representing clients before the U.S. Social Security Administration.
15277592
Type Your Social Security Question Here...
LawTalk is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My common law wife passed away this last October. We had

Customer Question

My common law wife passed away this last October. We had been together for 36 years, Her social security stopped, I received a letter stating her payment for the month of November was returned . This was never explained why it was returned. The payments have not resumed. They offered a phone number wanting me to leave a message, They never returned my call. What do I do?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 months ago.

Good evening Bill,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry for your loss. My goal is to provide you with excellent service tonight. Thanks for asking for me. Please know that I am not an employee of this site, nor do I work for social security. I rely on you to rate my service so I can be paid for helping you---and as you specifically asked for my help, I ask that you do rate my service based on my help, and not on whether the law is in your favor because I have no control over that.

Social security benefits are paid in arrears---meaning that a payment for the month of October is paid in November. And because to be eligible for a social security benefit, the person must be alive for the full month and not a partial month or even the majority of a month----because your spouse died in October, she (and her estate) would not be eligible for a benefit for that month and so if a payment was made by social security in November, they would have demanded that the bank return the payment to them. That is why the payment was clawed back in November---because she was not entitled to the benefit for the month that she passed.

As for the fact that the payments stopped after her death, that is because only your spouse was entitled to collect her own retirement benefit. Spouses do not get to continue receiving their partner's social security benefit on their deaths. The payments never resumed because your spouse is not eligible for a payment after death.

If she was collecting a greater benefit than you are, then you may apply for a survivor benefit and switch from your own benefit to a survivor benefit (if that will get you more money each month), but you may not collect more than one benefit at a time.

If her benefit was greater than yours, then you will want to apply to social security for a survivor benefit and you will be granted it---in an amount equal to what she was receiving as of her death. If she was not getting more than you, then there is nothing for you to do and you are not entitled to anything more from social security----with the exception of the lump sum death benefit of $255 that one spouse may receive on the death of their spouse who is eligible for social security benefits. If you want to apply for the lump sum benefit then you will need to contact social security and prove your common law marriage as well as present a copy of her death certificate.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

Please remember to rate my service to you so that I can be compensated for helping you. There is no cost to you related to your rating my service to you. Thank you in advance.

I wish you well in your future,

Doug

Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 months ago.

Good evening,

Is there anything else I can assist you with tonight? It is possible that your questions and issues might be better served by an in-depth conversation with me. If you are interested, for a very nominal charge I can offer you a private phone conference.

Please know that I answered your question in good faith after you specifically asked for my personal help, providing you with the information that you asked for, and I did so with the expectation that you would act likewise, and rate my service to you. If I have already provided you with the information you asked for and you have no additional questions, would you please now rate my service to you so I can be compensated for assisting you? Rating me costs you nothing as you have already paid the deposit for my help. All rating does is ensure that I am paid for my time in working with you.

Thanks in advance for your rating of my service. It is greatly appreciated.

I wish you the best in your future,

Doug

Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 months ago.

Hi,

It is possible that your questions and issues might be better served by an in-depth conversation with me. If you are interested, for a very nominal charge I can offer you a private phone conference.

Please know that I answered your question in good faith, providing you with the information that you asked for, and I did that with the expectation that you would act likewise and rate my service to you. If I have already provided you with the information you asked for and you have no additional questions, would you please now rate my service to you so I can be compensated for assisting you? Rating me costs you nothing as you have already paid the deposit for my help. All rating does is ensure that I am paid for my time in working with you.

Thanks in advance for your rating of my service. It is greatly appreciated.

I wish you the best in 2017,

Doug