Social Security: SSA Notes 8 Ways to Receive Additional Benefits

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Social Security is best known for paying retirement benefits you earned during your working life, but it pays much more than that to eligible Americans. Depending on your income and family status, you might qualify for everything from spousal or child benefits to veteran’s benefits.

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As the Social Security Administration noted on its website, it’s not unusual for circumstances to change after you apply or became eligible for benefits. If you or a family member receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, certain life changes might make you eligible for bigger payments.

To find out if you or a family member might qualify for an additional benefit based on another person’s work — or a higher benefit based on your own work — you can use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool.

Here’s a look at eight circumstances that could increase your benefits, according to the SSA.

Your Spouse or Ex-Spouse has Died

The death of a spouse or ex-spouse might make you eligible for a higher survivor benefit based on the spouse’s work. This is the case even if you are already receiving a survivor benefit on another spouse.

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You Receive SSI and Have a Parent Who is Deceased or Getting Social Security Benefits

This applies if you are unmarried and under age 18 or were disabled prior to age 22. If your parent is deceased or receiving Social Security, you might be eligible for child benefits based on your parent’s work.

Death of a Child Who Helped Support You

If your deceased child had enough work credits and provided at least half of your support, you might be eligible for a higher parent’s benefit based on their work.

Extra Benefits Based on Spouse’s Work and Your Work

Even if your benefits are based on a spouse’s work, you might be eligible for a higher retirement benefit based on your own work as well.

Benefits Based on Ex-Spouse’s Work

If you are at least 62 years old and unmarried, you might be eligible for a benefit based on a former spouse’s work if that marriage lasted at least 10 years.

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Spousal Benefits Based on Child Status

You might be eligible for a spouse’s benefits if you care for a child who is under age 16 or disabled prior to age 22.

Military Veterans Receiving SSI or Social Security Benefits

If you served in the U.S. military, you might be eligible for benefits through the Veterans Administration. Visit this link for more information:

Your Income has Declined or You’ve Experienced a Loss in Financial Resources

In this case, you might qualify for additional income through SSI, which helps seniors and the disabled who have limited income and financial resources.

Take Our Poll: Do You Think You Will Be Able To Retire at Age 65?

For more information on how you might qualify for additional Social Security benefits, visit this SSA site.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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