Widowhood & SSA Financial Impact
When a spouse dies, not only is there the profound emotional loss but also there’s frequently a financial one as well. While a widow receives Social Security survivors’ benefits, she can’t receive the same amount of Social Security income that she and her deceased spouse enjoyed before. And, while Social Security income drops, the effective tax rate tends to increase due to the change in filing status. To top it all off, there are a host of bureaucratic hoops to jump through when a spouse passes away. Here’s a few of the most important:
- You must return the Social Security benefit that your deceased spouse received for the month of death, and any received thereafter. You are not allowed to keep Social Security checks received for the month a person dies, even when the death was on the last day of the month. If your spouse passed away in September, the September benefit is the check received in October. That money must be returned to the Social Security Administration, even if you were dealing with piles of medical bills in your spouse’s last month of life.
- You will not receive a survivor benefit in addition to your own retirement benefit. You receive the higher of the two and, for the overwhelming majority of women, that means giving up your own retirement benefit to receive the higher survivors benefit.
- If you receive your own retirement benefit, rather than a spouse benefit, your benefit will not automatically convert to a survivors benefit — you must apply. You cannot apply online however, and you must get an appointment from the Social Security Administration. Survivors must contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment. News reports suggest this has been huge problem for many eligible beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to staffing shortages and closed local offices. TSCL is still sorting through Social Security survivor data, which appears to be lower than the 5,886,000 forecast by the Social Security Trustees in 2020. We are not certain whether some of this is because of deaths due to COVID-19, or problems that eligible beneficiaries may have had in scheduling appointments to file claims for survivor benefits, or both.
- Your tax filing status and exemptions change. Tax rates and exemptions tend to be more favorable for married couples filing jointly. When a spouse passes away, you will file as a “single” taxpayer in the following tax year. Single taxpayers often must pay a higher effective rate than married couples, and you don’t qualify for the more generous standard exemption for joint filers.
Several approaches to modify Social Security benefits in order to aid widows are available to Congress. One widely discussed option would boost the widow’s benefit to a percentage of the couple’s combined Social Security benefit (such as 75% of the combined benefit) when the deceased spouse was alive, allowing the widow to choose the higher of the new boosted benefit or what she would otherwise receive as a widow’s benefit.
[Source: [Source: The Senior Citizens League | October 19, 2021 ++]
VA: Federal Benefits, for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors 2021 Edition
USMC VTA Legacy Donation Program
If you would like to make a Legacy donation to the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association upon checking into the Big Tank Park in the Sky, we have outlined a guide for your planning in making an informed and impactful decision. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to ensure your Legacy Donation is in place.
- Chose the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association as one of your Beneficiaries.
- Chose where and how you want your Legacy Donation to be used.
Example: VTA Buddy Fund–VTA Scholarship Fund–VTA General Fund
- Chose from the suggested paragraph language for your lawyer or advisor to place into your will or trust.
a) Specific Bequest:
I give, devise and bequeath to the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association 16605 Forest Green Terrace. Elbert, CO. 80106, the sum of $_________ ( or here otherwise describe the gift) for its ( where the Legacy Donation is to be used or put) general purposes as shall be determined by its Board.
b) Residuary Bequest:
All (or state a_______%) of the rest, residue, remainder of my property, both real and personal and whosesoever situated, I give, devise and bequeath to the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association 16605 Forest Green Terrace. Elbert, CO. 80106 for its (where the Legacy Donation is to be used or put: general purposes as shall be determined by the Board).
c) Gift of Other Personal Property:
I give the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association 16605 Forest Green Terrace. Elbert, CO. 80106 (here describe the gift, for example: coins, property, collections and/or firearms) for its (where the Legacy Donation is to be used or put: general purposes as shall be determined by its Board).
- Important information you need when meeting with your lawyer or adviser to integrate in to your will or trust.
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association IRS: number 207115000 Effective date: 7/7/06 Combat Tax Exempt Association 501(c) 19
- Notify the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association by letter, as we need to know of your Legacy Donation, or if you wish for your gift to remain Anonymous.
If you have questions please call or email: Rick Lewis Vice President USMC VTA and he will get answers to your questions.
Rick can be reached via phone at 858-735-1772 or email: email@example.com