Good Morning Ms. Toni:

I have been married for 41 years to the same wonderful man. We only have our Social Security checks with a little pension from his job. I am very concern about losing his Social Security check of $1800 a month when he passes away. I get a very little Social Security check of about $525 because I did not work full time and was a stay at home housewife.

I’m worried that I cannot survive on what my check is. Can you please tell me what to do when he passes away?

Do I receive both checks; his check only or I hope not mine only!! I’m sure there are others who are asking the same question.

~ Thanks in advance, Florence from New Orleans

Hello Florence:

This is a very interesting question in regards to Social Security. Social Security will advise you what will be most advantageous for you. They will show you which way will be best. Social Security may not allow you to keep both of Social Security checks. They will let you use and keep which option is best for you.

Some time people wait too long to let Social Security know that their loved one (spouse) had passed away. Don’t wait!! The Social Security office goes by the day you notify them of your loved ones passing, not the day that he or she had passed away. It states on the Social Security website to go immediate after the passing of your loved one, to advise Social Security of your loved one passing and to apply.

If you or your spouse is already receiving your Social Security benefits:

  • Call Social Security at 1/800-772-1213, visit the website at or go to your local Social Security office and meet with a representative. They will advise you how to apply for survivor benefits.
  • Social Security will show you which way will be best for you, but they may not allow you to use you or your husband’s Social Security checks.
  • Remember, any time you go to Social Security and they are processing an application or making a change to your Social Security, always get a copy of what they are processing and what they have promised you.
  • If you are getting benefits as a wife or husband based on your spouse’s Social Security check, when you report the death to Social Security, they will change your payments to survivor’s benefits. If they (Social Security) need more information, they will contact you.
  • Social Security will need certain information, but do not delay applying if you do not have everything. A Social Security representative can direct you to what you need.
  • Social Security needs either original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. They do not accept an unofficial copy. Everything has to be documented and official.

The information Social Security will need includes:

  • Proof of death—either from a funeral home or death certificate;
  • Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased worker’s (spouse’s);
  • Your birth certificate;
  • Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower;
  • Your divorce papers, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower;
  • Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates;
  • Deceased worker’s(spouse’s) W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year;
  • The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.

If you have not turned 67 and cannot earn as much as you like without a Social Security penalty, then email me and I can help put a plan together with your special circumstances. Social Security is a very complex subject and as confusing as Medicare.           

Toni King is the author of Medicare Survival Guide is available only at and not sold in bookstores.  Toni is an advocate/consultant for those “Confused about Medicare”.  Contact Toni if you would like a workshop for your church, organization or a company lunch and learn at or call 832/519-TONI (8664).

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