What happens to your Social Security benefit if you lose a spouse?

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For many American retirees, Social Security is a valuable, and sometimes essential, part of their retirement income. But what happens to your Social Security benefit if you lose a spouse?

A married couple could be at risk of depleting their retirement accounts without the combined Social Security benefits they have been contributing to. This loss could inhibit the survivor’s ability to produce sufficient income in retirement.

Income planning is a very important part of your retirement road map – but what about income-protection planning? Through a lot of hard work, you’ve built a plan that may count on both your and your spouse’s Social Security benefits.

Losing one or both of your benefits could be detrimental to your plans. How does this loss occur? When you are no longer here, your surviving spouse can either continue their benefit or take yours – whichever is greater.

Let’s look at a quick example:

A husband earning a monthly benefit of $2,000 and a wife earning $1,000 will have a total of $3,000 a month in Social Security. If the husband passes, the wife is left with a monthly benefit of $2,000 – a loss of $1,000 per month of the combined benefit.

Every situation is unique, and here’s where we see the problem more clearly:

The cost of living will likely remain unchanged for many retirees following a spouse’s passing, although the surviving spouse will have less Social Security income. Furthermore, their tax rate may increase as a single taxpayer vs. married/jointly.

Your goal may be to keep your family from having to change their lifestyle, even if you can no longer provide for them. Life insurance may be the solution to maintaining your family’s financial independence after you’re gone and providing the added peace of mind you are looking for.

Permanent life insurance, unlike term, protects your family throughout your life instead of just a set number of years. Like term insurance, permanent life may provide a tax-exempt, lump-sum inheritance to your family that is probate-free (in most states).

Certain types of permanent life insurance can even double as a long-term care protection policy, should you need care before you pass away. This helps you to avoid liquidating other assets to pay for long-term care expenses.

For many, permanent life insurance can be a smart addition to any retirement strategy – especially for those concerned about their family running out of money or unexpected health care costs.

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