Wealth Management & Financial Planning

Wealth Management & Financial Planning

Utilizing Social Security Survivor Benefits

The loss of a spouse is an emotionally challenging time, and dealing with financial matters can add to the burden. However, understanding the intricacies of Social Security survivor benefits can be advantageous in securing financial stability for the future. One strategy that widows and widowers can employ is utilizing survivor benefits to cover health insurance premiums while allowing their own Social Security benefits to grow.

When a spouse passes away, the surviving partner may become eligible for survivor Social Security benefits. These benefits are based on the deceased spouse's work record and can provide a substantial financial lifeline. The amount of the survivor benefit depends on various factors, including the deceased spouse's work history and the survivor's age at the time of claiming. One of the most significant expenses that can come up when a spouse passes away before Medicare age is health insurance. Instead of dipping into personal savings to cover premiums, surviving spouses can use their survivor Social Security benefits to offset these costs. Doing so allows them to preserve their own Social Security benefits, which can grow over time.

Delaying claiming personal Social Security benefits can lead to higher payouts in the future. By postponing benefits until full retirement age (FRA) or even later, individuals can increase their monthly payments significantly. This strategy is known as “delayed retirement credits,” which adds a certain percentage to the benefits for each year of delayed claiming past the FRA.

Using survivor benefits to cover immediate expenses like health insurance allows individuals to optimize their lifetime income. By preserving and growing their own Social Security benefits, they set the stage for a more financially secure retirement.

While utilizing survivor benefits for health insurance premiums is a sound strategy, there are several factors to consider:

a) Age and Health: Assess your overall health and life expectancy to determine when to claim your personal Social Security benefits. If you anticipate living a longer life, delaying benefits may yield greater returns.

b) Other Sources of Income: Evaluate your overall financial situation, including other sources of income and retirement savings. Coordinating Social Security claiming strategies with other assets can lead to a more comprehensive plan.

c) Tax Implications: Survivor benefits and personal Social Security benefits may be subject to taxation depending on your total income. Consult with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of your claiming decisions.

Facing the loss of a spouse is undoubtedly challenging, and the financial implications can be overwhelming. By understanding and utilizing survivor Social Security benefits to cover health insurance premiums, surviving spouses can protect their own Social Security benefits, allowing them to grow over time. However, each individual's situation is unique, and consulting financial professionals will provide invaluable guidance to make the most informed decisions. By employing this approach, widows and widowers can enhance their financial security and build a stable foundation for a well-prepared retirement.


Financial Enhancement Group is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through World Equity Group, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services can be provided by Financial Enhancement Group (FEG) or World Equity Group. FEG and World Equity Group are separately owned and operated.

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