Tax Break For Widows

Question Tax Breaks for WidowsI was widowed this year, and a friend told me she heard there are some tax breaks for widows. Can you help?


AnswerYes. As a widow, you may file a joint return for the year he died. In addition, if you still have a dependent child at home, you may use the joint return rates for the following two years as well. And if you and your husband owned rental property, don’t forget that it qualifies for a step-up in tax basis to its value at the date of his death. That means more depreciation currently, and less taxable gain when you sell it. This also applies to other appreciated assets, such as stock and mutual funds.


QuestionWhen my husband died, I collected some life insurance. Should I pay off the car, house and credit cards, or should I invest it?


AnswerFirst, set aside an emergency fund (generally three to six months’ expenses). Then pay off your non-deductible car loan and credit card debt. If the interest rate on your home mortgage is less than you can earn on investments (about 8-10%), keep the loan and invest your money for income or long-term growth, depending on your needs.


QuestionI am a 62-year-old widow and I am collecting social security benefits
based on my deceased husband’s earnings. I’d like to remarry, but I don’t want to lose those benefits. A friend told me that happened to her mother. Is that true?


AnswerFortunately, your benefits will continue even after you remarry. In the bad old days, widows did lose their benefits upon remarriage, so a lot of seniors began living together instead. Congress mended that rip in our nation’s moral fabric in 1984.


QuestionMy husband died recently. He never discussed his financial affairs with me, but he always told me I’d be taken care of. I think he meant there was life insurance, but I don’t know what life insurance policies he owned. How can I make sure I’ve collected all the insurance benefits due me?


AnswerWrite to the American Council of Life Insurance, Policy Search Dept., 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004. Request a missing policy search form and enclose a legal-size self-addressed, stamped envelope. When you return the complete form, they will send it to the life underwriters who are members of the Council. Those companies will search their files to see if your husband was covered by a life insurance policy issued by them. This search will take about three months.

490 thoughts on “Tax Break For Widows”

  1. Julianna H. Annarella

    I am a senior,retired widow and just re-located to California from Las Vegas, NV to be near family. Am I allowed to deduct my moving expenses on my Federal Tax Return? (or is moving expenses tax deductible just for job relocation? What taxes am I allowed to deduct on my Federsal Tax Return? (other than medical, donations)? Are sending faxes for my lease tax deductible? Please let me know. Also, how long does one have to reside in a State to pay their State taxes? In my case the State is California. Thank you. Julianna H. Annarella

    1. Julianna, Moving expenses are deductible if you are employed full time for most of the year following the move. Expenses in connection with obtaining personal housing aren’t deductible either. To see a listing of what’s deductible, go to and look at Form 1040, Schedule A. But remember, if you don’t itemize you’ll still get a standard deduction of $5,950, even more if you are over 65. And finally, you are taxed by the state in which you reside, so if you move to California intending to be a resident, your income from that day forward is taxed by California.

      1. Hi!!

        Goodmorning! I’m hoping you can answer my questions. My dad died in 2014 almost 3 years ago but my mom just start getting social security pension of my dad just this month (july 14, 2017) they told us before last year that my mom will get a lampsum who’s those months that my mom didn’t get those monthly pension since 2014 the month my dad died till the day before my mom start getting her pension which is started this month July.. but we haven’t receive any of the lampsum for those 2 and half years that we didn’t get anything.. mom only got the bereavement which is $500 in 2015.
        Can you please help us!.
        Thank you and sorry for bothering you!


        1. I suggest that you contact them again and ask them for clarification. Your mom was entitled to collect reduced widow benefits at early as age 60. They may not be able to pay you more that six months of back benefits in a lump sum, but at least that would be something, wouldn’t it?

        1. It has almost been 2 yrs now my husband passed. I get social security and veterans pay i was told to ask if i can file taxes

    2. My nephew became a widower this year. He has 2 children. His wife left him but they were not divorced.
      She was working. She got killed last of July in a car wreck.
      How should he handle his taxes this year. He buried her nicely and loves his children. Wants to do what’s right. Need advice.

  2. My husbend just pass on the 17 of oct. He was a retired man from the military. I want to kno if i keep is monthly benefits. Or what should i do. I dnt wanna get in to trouble.

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you are getting comfort and help from those around you who love you and your family. The first thing to do is to call 800-321-1080 to report the death of your husband. Since his entitlement to retirement pay ends on the date of his death, when his death is reported, DFAS will take back his final month’s pay and compute the amount of the payment actually owed to you as his beneficiary. If you have more questions, you can ask them when you call to report his death.

      1. Somebody tell me right. My marriage first was 2008, ended in 2010. Then we continued to live together ,got remarried, not quite a month, til he passed Oct. 2016. Said I was going to be taken care of with his military status, firefigher,, retirement. So, just not getting help in receiving what it does to me now is confusing..thank you, I pray everyday, God help me get some kind support. Been through alot past drama as single mom raising 9 children. Life is a grown and gone, lonely for growth. Jobs have not been to rewarding. Have couple of skills, if it is real opportunity. Debt is not to drive a person down, just need help getting back on track. Thank, Nita Sims

        1. You’ll need to contact the military retirement people to see whether you were named as beneficiary, and the same with the firefighter retirement. If you were not, then you can contact an attorney to find out what the law requires in your state. It may be that he was required to name you as beneficiary since you were his spouse, in which case you’ll have to go after collecting the funds from the named beneficiary who received them.

          1. Cynthia L Brewster

            I was married 10 yrs to my husband john(who now is on SSDI ) then got a divorce . I remarried to Adam and he passed only 8 months after our marriage.
            I was disability retired by the state of Massachusetts. * can I collect on my 1st husbands SSI , Due to the fact we are both disabled ? Or will that cut into my pension?
            I’m only 54- is there a age restriction for filing for John’s SSI ?
            I was told I cant get my second husband
            S.S Benifits because he died and are marriage wasnt long enough ? Who’s SS
            Benifits am I entitled to? Husband 1or 2?

          2. In most circumstances, you must be married to the deceased person for at least nine months to qualify for widow’s benefits. But if he died accidentally, and not due to a medical condition that existed when you married him, that rule can be waived.

            SSI benefits go to low income people as a supplement to their own income. Check with social security to see whether you qualify based on your particular circumstances. As for social security retirement benefits, once you are age 60 or older, you can receive those as a widow if you qualify, or after age 62 as a divorced spouse or on your own history, whichever benefit is greater, if they exceed your social security disability benefits.

  3. My husband passed away he was 68 years old. I was told I could draw widow’s pention when I become 60 years old, how much do you usaually get from this.I have 4 years to wait I’m just curious. thank you

    1. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. If you wait to collect widow’s benefits from social security until you are 66, you can get 100% of the benefits your husband had earned. You can begin drawing reduced social security widow’s benefits at age 60 of about 70% of what you would get if you wait until age 66.

          1. I heard that one can take the reduced initially, then FREEZE benefits at some time between age 62 and 66, then start again AFTER age 66 to receive full SSI benefit.

          2. If you are receiving Social Security Retirement benefits and you change your mind about when they should start, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply at a future date. However, if you change your mind 12 months or more after you became entitled to retirement benefits, you cannot withdraw your application.

          3. Yes, Ginita is correct. The claim will be permanently reduced for life!!!! I just got out of the SS office, and I am 26 days away from being 66. My husband died three weeks ago, and they tried to get me to take his benefit at 70% less by filing immediately. I told them file it when I am 66 in 26 days….The agent didn’t even warn me that it would be reduced…He just said “I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you are entitled to”, and gave me the figures which were $300 less than what was on his Social Security Benefit Statement from last year. So I held it up in his face, and told him….My husband worked his butt off for this money for 43 years, and isn’t going to see a penny of it. I should at least honor my husband by getting the maximum he worked for so I can live as he would have wish for me to live. The agent’s face went totally red, and he said…Yes, Maam. I think it is soooo wrong for Social Security to try and gyp someone out of $300 a month for life.!!!

          4. Bravo Erica
            How rude and insensitive of our government can be at times Trying to play an underhanded heist on the people that worked so so hard and diligently to provide a fundamental service. To try to STEAL away from the dependents left behind. Even in his passin, he still provides provisions for his loved one. I understand you completely…I lost my beloved husband 1 1/2 yrs ago…with a federal position. Good living was what he left us…to live comfortable and the government wants to short change us and his integrity.

      1. No one mentioned the fact that as a widow (widower) you can file a restricted application for widow’s benefit with Social Security and allow your own worker’s benefit to grow until the age of 70, then switch to your own larger benefit. If your own benefit won’t ever exceed the survivor’s benefit, you can choose to file a restricted application for your own benefits as early as age 62 (benefits will be reduced) and at full retirement age currently between age 66 and 67, file for survivor’s benefits. You will need to get someone at Social Security to run the numbers to determine which filing combination would get you the most benefit.

        1. That is correct. If the widow benefit will exceed your own benefit, even if you let it grow to age 70, then it makes sense to file for your own benefit at age 62 if you are no longer working, and switch to survivor benefit, since it doesn’t matter to you that your benefit will be forever reduced.

      2. Hi, thank you for your response. I’m a disabled widow and been drawing widows pension ( I guess ), since the age of fifty.
        I wasn’t told the percentage of what I’m given. I was told though that if I were to wait until retirement age that I would get seven hundred more. Obviously I couldn’t being disabled permanently.
        What happens to my disabled widow benefits when I turn retirement age? What changes? Also, am I eligible for SSI now or at anytime in my future? I’m almost 591/2

        1. I’m guessing that you are talking about drawing social security retirement benefits for widows, but if it is an employer plan it is likely to work the same way. When you turn 60, your widows pension will continue. Same with 61, 62, 63, etc. You will get those same payments for the rest of your life, unless it is an employer plan under which you selected another option. As for SSI, that is a supplemental income for low income people that is administered through the Social Security Administration, and is not something I know much about. Ask the SS Administration about it — they are the ones that know the rules.

  4. Is there any way that I can reduce the taxes I pay on my deceased husband’s pension? He worked for 25 years for the phone company in Massachusetts.
    If I move to Nevada, can I eliminate paying taxes on his pension?
    Is there any way to lower the taxes that I pay as a widow on my deceased husband’s pension?
    Can I collect social security benefits as well as his pension now that I am a widow?
    Thank You

    1. Do contact the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213, and inquire about collecting on your husband’s social security record. Hopefully you are due back benefits as well as benefits going forward.

      If you move to a state without an income tax such as Nevada, you won’t be paying state income tax any longer, but you will still owe federal income taxes on your income.

      1. Hi,,,,,,,,I am working on a friends tax return. She cashed in her deceased husbands pension just in 2014…….husband died I think 3 or 4 years ago. I am trying to locate info on how the state of PA will tax this money. In the program I work in it is taxing the entire amount. It tells me to get the basis amount that the husband paid into the account to lower the taxable amount. Is this the right action to take? She is not at retirement age yet…… 58

        1. If husband bought this pension with after-tax money, then the advice you got is correct. But if it was an employer pension and the contributions were made by the employer, or if by the employee he got a tax deduction for his contributions, then there is no after-tax contribution and so the full amount will be taxable. The 1099-R that she received will tell her what portion is taxable.

          1. Hi, thank you for your response.
            Since my husband passed away in 2010 I’ve been drawing disabled widow benefits (at 50 ) since that time I’ve also supplemented it with his 401k retirement acct. I’ve always paid huge taxes on it, again right out of the acct. Now I’m told I owe thousands for 2016 and more for 2018. The problem is it’s the first time I won’t be able to pay, and I’ve almost depleted the retirement funds.
            What can I do to fix this problem since I didn’t work throughout our 20 year marriage and now cannot work permantly.
            I’ve had a nervous breakdown as well after our 25 yr old son commited suicide in 2017. Is there any way I can get any of those taxes waived? Hardship is a understatement now.

          2. Income taxes are not optional, and there is no “hardship waiver.” However, if you owe taxes and can’t pay, you can set it up on an installment payment plan. Contact the IRS to get this going, if that’s what you need to do.

      2. My friend is 56 n receiving a monthly check for the loss of her husband. From the CraneFund that’s her only income is she obligated to pay taxes on it. 16,500 is her yearly income

  5. I am now 70 years old and collecting my husband’s pension. He died at age 60 9 years ago.
    Please refer to my earlier message ….from Marion Marianse.
    Thank you

  6. My husband passed at53 in april. No pension I have one 17 year old and a21year old in college. 17 get benefits 21 year old doesnt and is a full time college student. Will make lress than 35000 in 2012. How do I file to get most refund back. Would like to pay off funeral. Still owe 3500. One life insurance policy paid 5000 off and used it directly to funeral. Where dimo i go for advice?

    1. I’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. For 2012 you can file a joint tax return with your deceased husband, and for 2013 and 2014 you can file as “surviving spouse”. Both of those filing statuses use the “married filing jointly” tax rates, which will be most favorable for you.

      1. I stumbled upon this website while searching how to file next year. My husband died in April of 2012 and I knew I had to file as married jointly this year but I didn’t know about the surviving spouse status for the next 2 years. Thank you!!!

        1. Surviving spouse (widow, widower) filing status only applies if you have a qualifying dependent.

  7. I started collecting on my own social security at age 62. When my husband passes can I still collect on his Social Security benefits which are much more than my own as I took early Social Security or will I be penalized because I started collecting on my own at 62 years of age?
    He is still employeed and in addition collecting his own Social Security presently – he’s 67 years old.and I am 66.

      1. Hello fellow widows. I live in California was 62 when my husband died unexpectedly. After visiting my social security office and filing for benifits…..I learned to late how I should have filed as I do receive as disability already…Should have “frozen” my husband’s d’s, continued mine until age 70 then received 100% of my husband’s d’s and cont mine… it stands I get mine and a percentage of my husband’s minus my amount….please ladies explore this option…social security will not tell you anything.

  8. My husband passed away in april 2012. How do i file for income tax? Do i have to claim life insurance that i recieved? Also he worked up until he passed away. How does that work?

    1. Sonya, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You can file a joint tax return with your deceased husband — you will sign your name twice, once on the line for his signature, with the notation “Attorney in fact”, and once on the line for your name. Life insurance proceeds aren’t taxable, but if there was a delay in you receiving the payout and the insurance company paid you interest, they will be sending you a 1099-INT form telling you how much interest to report. His wages will be reported on the line of the tax return that says “wages” – – you should receive a W-2 from his employer.

      1. My husband died July 2012. I filed my 2012 taxes as married filing jointly. I tried to file qualifying widower this time but it was rejected because we don’t have children. I get retirement and social security. So how do I file my 2013 taxes?

          1. I thought you replied in an earlier post that the year my spouse passed ..2014. File as joint..then file as surviving spouse for the next 2 years. Your reply here says file single. Did I misunderstand?

  9. my husband died Dec.24th 2009. I am a Dential Hygienist ,now 49 years old. I have a pretty good job, why can I not collect my husbands social security till I am 60.? Is what I was told…and when I retire, want I be collecting my social security that I’ve paid in? Where does his go that he paid in to for 25 yrs?

    1. The earliest age at which you can receive widow’s benefits is age 60. Remember those benefits are for retirement, which is why the social security system has them beginning when people are 62 — for widow’s that date is lowered to age 60, and if you collect before age 65, the benefits are reduced. If you earn more than $15,120 a year, the benefits will be reduced further by $1 for every $2 your earn over $15,120, so if you are still working you likely should delay collecting benefits until age 65. You can collect your own benefits when you retire, but you can’t double up — you’ll get whichever record gives you more. It may pay you to continue getting your widow’s benefits but delay collecting your own benefits until age 70, which will increase your benefits by 8% per year you delay over age 66, so that would be another 32% added to your benefits. That would be a good strategy if your enhanced benefits would exceed your widow’s benefits.

  10. My husband passed in July 2012.. He was on social security for kidney failure. He was 53. Does SSI send me a w2 for his SSI received up to his death? I received one for the one month of benefits for July 2012.
    Can I claim his medical bills? Thks.

    1. I’m so sorry for your recent loss. You should have received a reporting form SSA-1099 already — perhaps that’s the one you say you’ve received. You can file a joint tax return with him for 2012 and claim his medical bills on that tax return, to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your total income. You’ll sign that joint return twice — one on the line for his signature, signing your name followed by “attorney in fact”, and once on the line for your own signature.

  11. Hi..My husband passed Sept 2011. I received workers comp widows pension and filed our taxes for 2012 jointly. I don’t work and am 59 yrs old. I now own our two propertys both rentals one is rent to own and handled via a realestate agent. The other property is not and I don’t know if I file taxes on any of this. Please inform me what to do.

    1. You will file your own tax returns for 2012 and future years, and you will report your widows pension, rental incomeon the properties less expenses paid out on them, and all other income and deductions that you have. If you still have minor children in your home, you can use the joint tax tables for 2012 and 2013 — otherwise you will use the single tables. A competent tax preparer can help you assemble the documentation you need and prepare the return.

  12. My husband passed in Aug 2012. I’ve received several notices from debtors for cancellation of debt (Sallie Mae & higher education), I thought these debts were forgiven upon death? I’m under the impression that ill need to file jointly this year & as a surviving spouse for the next two years, is that the way it has to be done?

    1. Many student loans are canceled upon death, and you say you’ve been receiving notices to that effect, so it apears that his loans are among those that are canceled upon death. The income from cancelation of death is taxable, but if he is deceased, then that is probably a moot point. Here’s a Forbes article that discusses the issue: You can file a joint return in the year of death, and then use the joint tax schedules in the next two years if you have children at home.

  13. My husband passed away suddenly in December of 2012. His wages and Social Security (he was 69) were our only source of income as I am a housewife. We had no life insurance and the survivor Soc. Sec. payments won’t begin until I’m 60 (2 more years). We have a mortgage that is not backed by government programs and I have not been able to make the payments. We had never been late or missed a payment for the life of the loan. I managed to find a part time job and my husband had a small IRA. I asked them to modify my existing loan, but they are unresponsive and just keep demanding payment. Is there any organization out there I can contact to help me understand exactly what kind of options I may have in this situation?

  14. My husband became extremely depressed and chemically dependent. We seperated in April 2012. I and our two young children moved out. I filed for divorce and we were set to have our court hearing in November 2012. He lost his job in May – they said they eliminated his job and laid him off (he got severance and was able to collect unemployment), but we all knew it was because he was unable to perform his job duties. In July, he took $64,000 out of his 401K to live on. He spent some of it, sent some of it to me for child support, and then ultimately mailed me a check for $27,000 the day that he killed himself in October 2012. We were technically still married, not legally seperated or divorced. My understanding is that I have to pay his income taxes for 2012 including the early withdrawal penalty on his 401K. This is costing me $15,000 total. I thought I heard something about being able to avoid the penalty if you are on unemployment for 12 weeks or something, but my husband was too disabled by his depression to file for unemployment regularly. He only collected $1500 in unemployment, which I think is about five weeks. I really appreciate any advice you can give me! I want to avoid paying his early withdrawal penalty if at all possible. Thank you!

    1. There is no exception to penalties for unemployment. Here are the exceptions the IRS lists at its website:
      The following six exceptions apply to distributions from any qualified retirement plan:
      •Distributions made to your beneficiary or estate on or after your death.
      •Distributions made because you are totally and permanently disabled.
      •Distributions made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary. If these distributions are from a qualified plan other than an IRA, you must separate from service with this employer before the payments begin for this exception to apply.
      •Distributions to the extent you have deductible medical expenses (medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income), whether or not you itemize your deductions for the year. For more information on medical expenses, refer to Topic 502.
      •Distributions made due to an IRS levy of the plan under section 6331.
      •Distributions that are qualified reservist distributions. Generally, these are distributions made to individuals that are called to active duty for at least 180 days after September 11, 2001.

      Since there is no exception to the penalties, you should explore whether you really owe his taxes. You were separated, so you could file your own return as head of household, and his return could be filed as married filing separately. His taxes would be due from the assets in his estate. If he had no assets at the time of his death, then the government would be out of luck. But reading between the lines of your message, it appears he might have had money remaining in his 401(k) at the time of his death, and so those funds would have to be used to settle the government claim.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful and researched response.

        So the money left in his 401K would be considered part of his estate even if I was listed as the beneficiary? I didn’t know that. I’ve already had that money transferred to my name.

        I just figured as Wisconsin is a shared property marital state that I would be held responsible for his debts, including taxes, upon his death. Since we weren’t legally seperated.

  15. My husband passed suddenly December 2012, he filed bankruptcy, I did not. The bankruptcy held up the foreclosure, I house is and has been up for sale. I was working on getting requesting a “Short Sale from the bank”. I have not disclose to the bank that he died because his bankruptcy was discharged, Am I in trouble, someone said I will be in trouble. We had joint survivor-ship on the property.

  16. HI,

    I am advising a friend on her 2012 taxes. She became widowed in November of 2012. She and her husband owned a business together, and in the absence of his guidance, she did not file 1099s for herself (main employee) or one other non-employee (maybe $5000 in income). Shall I have her contact the IRS immediately? Any other benefits I may be missing, as in funeral expenses….

      1. theresa demarco

        Hi my name is Theresa and i hope you can help me my husband died last year at the age of 50 I was still married to him but not living with him I left him several years before he died can i still get his penison as i now live back in Ireland dont know who can help me on this so any information will be nice

        1. His pension went to whoever he named as beneficiary. The laws of the state he lived in may allow you to claim a dower benefit by virtue of being his wife, if he left it to someone other than you. Check with an attorney to find out for sure whether you can elect against the estate for your dower benefit.

          1. I have a question I am 68 and I am collecting social security I totally retired in 2016 I was hurt at work and my employer was not willing to change my job duties so I had to retire. I couldn’t do the work anymore I had to sit and stand for long periods of time which I couldn’t do. So I collecting short term disabilty which has now stopped when the doctor said I was permanent and stationary. But I’m not I will never be. I’ve gotten hurt in the past and doctors can only get you so far. Now I’m permanently disabled and also to old to collect disabilty not fair but that’s life. I need to know if I need to file taxes on what I lived on for that year? I only get 1000 a month from social security and 700 a month i recieved from temporary disability for a year.

  17. Hi, I was recently widowed in January 2013. I have 5 children…22, 20 (severe Autism), 18, 10, 8. He was a business owner with his father. I have not worked out of the home in over 10 years. I need some advice on how and if I should file income taxes for 2012. He was very sick the entire year. He did show earnings of $40K for the year. His father keeps me in “the dark” most of the time. I am very worried about what to do at this point.

    1. For 2012 you can file a joint tax return. You can sign it as yourself and on his behalf by signing your name, followed by “attorney in fact”. For 2013 and 2014 you will file your own tax return but you will use the joint tax rates as a surviving spouse, which will reduce your taxes.

  18. my husband died in 2003 and i herd that i should be getting a widows rebate. i don’t have any taxes from the past. i’m on disabilty. i do get a renter rebate how would i go about getting a widows rebate if i even quilfie

    1. I’m not familiar with a widows rebate — perhaps it is a program in your state. Ask the person who told you about it for more details, or call 211 if that’s available in your area and ask them if they’ve heard of it.

  19. My father passed away in 95 and my family has been under stress since. Ive been trying to research 2 things to help our situation,

    1. Is there a way to prevent someone from opening up credit cards? Like power of attorney? My mom keeps opening up cards and piling on debt. (This one is off topic so I understand if you’re unsure)

    2. Is there a property tax break on our house for a widow? My mom said she saw it somewhere one time but I cant find it. We also need to appeal the value of our house because at this point, they expect us to pay 13,000 in property taxes this year and we cant afford it. we tried to file an appeal but they said it was too late this year.

    I feel like these might be off topic, but you have a lot of knowledge so any feedback would be helpful. My mom is a widow with nine children so we are trying to help the best we can.

    Thank you

    1. If your mom is incompetent to handle her own affairs, you might be able to be appointed as her guardian. But if she simply has poor money management skills, then I don’t know what you can do. The credit card companies will eventually catch on that she has too much debt compared to income and/or can’t meet the payments, and they will then quit giving her new cards — that’s the theory, anyway. Call the assessors office to inquire about any widow’s tax break that might be available in your locale. There isn’t one where I live

      1. Im a 49 year old widow since july 2015 im getting ( mothers benefits) i have one surviving child under 18 want to remarry this coming February and have a pending disability case ongoing will i lose my benefits if i remarry

  20. ,My husband died from a disease he caught as a paramedic/firefighter from a patient, in July 2011. I was disabled in January 2010. We have a mortgage, a loan for $50,000 worth of credit card bills and a credit card that he got in both our names, without my knowledge. They are all from the same bank. I do get a small income from his work at a county and my social security. My youngest son was 17 at the time and wanted all of his senior things. I used my husband’s $10,000 death insurance to pay for his funeral, which cost close to $7,000. The rest used to help pay the mortgage and the loan. I use my social security to pay my other bills; water,electricity,gas,telephone, and some food. My older son was taking care of me, as I’m totally disabled; need help to get on the toilet, shower, bed and getting food prepared for me, and I’m in a wheelchair. My husband did take $7,000 out of his retirement before his death, which I used for the mortgage payments and the loan. I haven’t paid on the credit card as of yet. My oldest son went a technical school,so I have an old,dear friend helping me since my son left. I can’t even pay him any money. Please help me if you can! Now I’m at the point where I can’t pay my mortgage,loan, and other bills, including gas to the doctors I have to see. Thank you, Lori

    1. Hi Lori – I’m so sorry for your loss. I noticed that no one had replied to you. I would suggest you contact a Workers’ Compensation attorney in your state. He or she may take 15 to 20% of Workers’ Compensation death benefits you are due but you could still do this even if it past a deadline. There are federal benefits available from the U.S. Department of Justice’s PSOB (Public Service Officer’s Benefit program) – Someone from his fire department should be able to help you with this. Vicki

  21. My dear husband was active duty Army with 20 years of service when he died in December 2012. We for the most part, we lived in military housing, and the times we lived in civilian quarters, the rental contract was based on his credit, his service, etc. Now, that he is gone, I am currently living with my parents and need to rent an apartment. Problem is, I don’t have a rental history, I also have not had paid employment since 2009. I have been reading about no credit check apartments, but for what you get for that, are places I would be afraid to live in by myself. What can I do? I want a really nice apartment that is not in a high crime area. I have the means to pay, but I am unemployed.

  22. My husband has a small construction business and we want to hire an accountant to help with the bookwork and
    keeping things in order. I have no idea where to start and I dont
    want to just pick someone out of the phone book. We dont want
    to trust just anyone with our finances and the getting
    everything done properly. Any ideas?.

  23. hi, hope yoy can help!!! i became disabled at the age of 61, was divorced from my husband in 1976, they told me i could collect from his money, no mention of a pension widows!!! i got the difference of his check and mine in 2007!! now i read in the newspaper that i could get his pension from social secerity, because i am 70 years old now ,a new law is this true??? they said up to 2/3 of his check??? also i am perm. and totally disabled!!! and suppoted his two children on my own for years, they were 7 and 9 years old at that time i became disabled in 2004, the support from me was from 1976 until 1988 hope you can give me some answers, i went to s.s. office and they said they can not afford to pay me widows pension?? if you can not help i will call an atty, but i really can not afford one thank again kathleen e. herlihy

    1. If you were married to your former husband for at least 10 years, you can collect divorced spouse benefits equal to 1/2 of what he receives. If he has died, you are eligible for widow’s benefits based on his history. If you are receiving a government pension of any sort (school system, city, county, state, federal employment, etc) then those benefits will be offset by 2/3 of that government pension. If you are entitled to the benefits, you should receive them. Whether or not social security can afford to pay those benefits is not relevant to your situation.

  24. My mom collects widow benefits from my father who passed away three years ago.She has property that she is thinking of selling. How will this affect her social security benefits? She will be 65 in acouple of months and will be eligible for full benefits.

  25. I have been widowed since 2004. I left my late husbands stock and 401k alone. Did not even send in. DCertif. I now know I am a victim of ID theft by changing my middle name. Do you think everything is still in place? I am the administrator of the estate. I’m afraid.

    1. I don’t know whether everything is still in place, but I know one way to find out — contact the 401(k) plan administrator or his employer to find out. Don’t be afraid to do that — worrying about it is far more painful that taking that step.

      1. I was in a same situation and my deceased husband’s 401 was taken out by his father no will .I wasn’t even told I just found out. I don’t understand how the company could not know anything. I’ve been trying to get this money back but nothing has been resolved. We have two children together and was married 12 years.



  28. My husband died May of 2013, I received his retirement as his beneficiary and paid the 20% federal taxes on it. I placed it in a savings account, do I have to claim this as income when I file my taxes this year?

    1. Yes. The 20% in taxes you paid was federal withholding tax. You will claim the income and the withholding tax on your federal tax return. If the taxes exceed the withholding, there will be additional tax due. If the taxes are less, then you will get a refund.

  29. Hello,
    My father passed away in November, 2013, I’m trying to help out my 70-year-old mother with several forms. As my father never discussed death, taxes, and finances, my mom and I are having a difficult time now. As a state employee retiree, my father received a monthly pension. My mother received a letter stating that, under the provisions of the program, she will receive a lump sum of $1,000, which is subject to federal income tax, in addition to a reduced monthly pension. They sent her some forms to complete, including the lump sum application and a Form W-4P (Election for Federal Income Tax Withholding). The letter also contains information that the $1,000 lump sum is eligible for rollover in an IRA.

    I’m confused about the W-4P form and what this is for. I was able to find the 2012 tax returns and all I’m able to find regarding his pension is that he filled out a 1040 and then a withholding from 1099-R distributions. Does she need to fill out the W-4P form because of the lump sum or because of the pension? If it’s because of the pension, wouldn’t that have been filled out previously OR is it because the pension amount is now modified? If she rolls over the $1,000 lump sum into an IRA, does she still fill out the W-4P form?

    If she rolls over the $1,000 lump sum into an IRA, does she roll it into an IRA that was in HER name, one that was in both their names, or does it matter?

    Related, I know that, as she is now 70 ½, she has to make a minimum withdrawal from her IRAs. If she rolls over the $1,000 into an IRA, does this affect the minimum withdrawal requirement?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. If your mom needs the $1000 now, she can keep it and pay tax on it. If she doesn’t need it now, she should roll it over into an IRA in her own name. That way, she’ll delay taxation until she takes withdrawals. Along with any other IRAs she has, it will be subject to minimum withdrawal requirements at age 70-1/2, and having that extra $1000 in her IRA will increase her required minimum withdrawals by about $40.

      The pension payments she receives (and the $1000 lump sum if not rolled over) are subject to tax. If she would like them to withhold taxes before she receives it, as is done for employee wages, then she’ll need to complete the Form W-4P. When she files her annual tax return on Form 1040, she’ll report the pension payments, lump sum (if not rolled over) and the withholding, and she’ll either break even, owe additional taxes, or be eligible for a refund, depending on her filing status and deductions. If she does not complete the W-4P form, they won’t take out any taxes — in that case, she’ll owe all the taxes with her tax return, plus a small penalty for not having paid the taxes in over the year. To avoid that she could file quarterly estimated tax vouchers sending in 1/4 of the taxes she estimates she’ll owe for the year.

      The simplest thing for her to do is to file the Form W-4P, so they take out taxes and she doesn’t have to worry about estimated tax penalties and large tax payments and penalties each spring when she files her tax return.

  30. I’ve become a widow in 2008 and currently working fulltime. I plan to work until I turn 60 so I can collect my husband’s SS benefits and delay mine for max. My youngest son graduated from UCR last Qtr. He’ll teach English part time while doing his master program in Bangkok Thailand for the next 2 years. I’d like to claim him as my dependent until he turns 26 because I may need to financially support with tuition. Can you please advise what I should do with my son’s situation and my retirement plan? What I can do to minimize taxes? Thank you

    1. In order to claim your son as dependent, he must live in your home and have minimal earnings, or be udner 24 and be a full-time student for at least 5 months of the year. As for your retirement plan, I don’t know quite what you are asking — in general it is best to delay taking payments as long as you can, leaving more for your old old age, but each situation is different. You should probably consult with a tax accountant or financial advisor.

  31. My husband died in March 2013. He was a retired government Employee & I a retired RN. I recieve my own Soc Sec payments as it was more than hisI. recieve a sm amt of gov.pension he left for me that pays Medicare assis Blue Cross. He had an Ira that was invested under 1 bank but divided into several cos.One of these allowed a death benefit I applied for it & rec’d benefit. I immed. took this to my bank to open an IRA with grown children as beneficiarys. Will I have to pay tax on this because it went thru my hands even if I prove it went into IRA? Rest of his IRA went directly to my bank as part of the new IRA?

    1. As a surviving spouse, you have one option that nobody else has: rolling over inherited IRA assets into your own IRA and treating these assets as if they were your own. Since the funds went into the IRA without delay, you should be fine. You can ask the bank to verify this with their legal department.

  32. My husband and I are living totally on Social Security. We pay out a lot of interest each year on our house mortage. Since neither of us are working can we still file income tax return to get part of the interest back? I have heard that we could but can find no information on this subject. Thanks!

    Also to the ladies who are wondering about drawing your husbands SS: My husband is 17 years older than me and has been retired since he was 62, he is now 82. I just turned 65 and signed up for my SS at 62. When I signed up they recomended that I draw off my husbands SS instead of mine because I would draw more, and it does not take away from the amount that he is drawing. Another benefit of that is, if he passes away before me I am automatically signed up for widows SS with full benefits and don’t have to do anything.

    1. If you have paid estimated taxes or had taxes withheld from an income source, you can file a tax return claiming your interest and other itemized deductions and may qualify for a refund. But if you haven’t paid any taxes into the system, it is doubtful that you can get a refund, since there is nothing to refund.

      Since you filed for benefits at age 62, Social Security Admin gave you the maximum that you were entitled to — there was no choice to be made, so their “recommendation” was simply telling you what was required. Fortunately, it was the best “choice” for you anyway, so a win-win all around.

  33. My income is from my husbands life insurance policy. There was a small amount of interest (1099-INT).
    Do I have to file a 1040 form to report that amount.

  34. Marcus & Joyce Horness

    My dear Husband is 83 yrs. old. I adore him and would keep him forever, but am also concerned should I survive him, as to how we should handle this now. I am 73 years old. He has kidney failure. I am concerned with the best way to handle his life Insurance, and his annuities, Iras and other money he has set aside. Also we have not put my name on the house. We have been married 19 years. I am listed as beneficiary on all of his money. He wants me to give his grown children a specified amount on his death and keep them listed as benif., to get the money on my death. Is this the best way to keep from giving all of his money to the government?
    Thank you

    1. Unless his estate is more than $5.125 million, he won’t be giving his money to the government when he dies, since the estate tax only applies to estates above that amount. But you do need to get the advice of an estate planning attorney to see what is the best way to make sure that his intentions are carried out upon his death. He needs a will (and so do you) and possibly a trust as well. The attorney can also advise you on the best way to title the house so you don’t go through onerous probate that ties up the house with needless red tape proceedings.

  35. My husband passed away and I am beneficiary on his life insurance. I am disable and receive Social Security Disability. How will this affect my social security disability ? Thanks for any help you can give me.

      1. my husband passed away on dec 1, 2013 and im a disabled widow i keep my check that i was receiving and i collect survivor benefits for myself and my 14 year old son and i get a partial pension because he passed before the age of 63 but according to my accountant i won’t have to pay any taxes on the money im receiving because its all social security benefits..the partial pension isn’t even enough to claim on my taxes..

  36. I have been a widow since 2007. How do I find out when I can collect my husband pension? When can I collect social security?

    1. To find out about your husband’s pension, contact the plan administrator at his employment. You can begin collecting reduced social security at age 60, but if you wait until you are 66 you’ll get full benefits.

  37. My husband died March 2014. He was 55 I am 51. Can I take 401k money out to pay towards mortgage? What taxes and penalty will be incurred? Or, because I am the beneficiary of his accounts and a widow is there no penalty?

    1. If the 401(k) was in his name and you have received it as his beneficiary, then you can take money out or roll it into your IRA. If you take money out rather than rolling it into your IRA, there will be no penalty, but you will have to pay taxes.

  38. My husband died in 2012. We have a home mortgage that we got in 2009. His name is the only name on the loan, but I am assuming we are both on the deed. I have nor informed the lender that he is deceased, but have been making the payments as always. Now, I need to sell the house, because I want to move close to my sister. What are the steps needed to sell our home?

  39. Hi, my name is Mona, and my husband passed away on March 24th of 2014. He was 70 years old, I will be 66 in August. We’ve been separated since 1984, and never got divorced, so I was eligible for his annuity, as told by his will. The annuity will be for $1000 p/m, but it is to be divided with myself and the 4 children, which is 5 in all. I live in Mass., my husband lived in RI, and 2 children live in RI, and 2 in Mass. The annuity will be coming in my name only, and then I’m supposed to divvy it up evenly, 1/5th to everyone. Now comes the tax problem: I’m retired , and am collecting his Social Security Retirement for life, along with my retirement. Now, is this annuity of $1000 p/m taxable ? If so, should I take the taxes out before I divvy it out evenly, because if it is taxable, why should I pay all the taxes at the end of the year ? This is a very stressful problem for me, and don’t know what to do. Can you lead me the right direction . PLEASE !!! – The children want there money, and keep asking about it, I still didn’t receive the first month yet . But, before it comes, I need answers to give them as far as how much, if any, taxes to take out . Thank you, a very desperate, Mona

      1. If the annuity listed only the wife (even if they were separated) as the only beneficiary, then it does not matter if in the deceased’s Will he expressed his desire for the annuity to be divided between the wife and four children. A beneficiary listing removes assets from a Will entirely. If the annuity listed his estate as beneficiary, then it is divided according to his Will and should be sent to each person separately by the Company with each recipient responsible for their own taxes.

  40. I am a widow since 2004. I started receiving my own Social Sec. Disability in 2005. We were married almost 20 yrs. I get a disability check monthly on my own earnings and I get another monthly check from my deceased husbands earnings, not sure I understand it all but it is what they do. I am now 65 years old and was told when I am 66 my SSD will convert over to regular Social Security. It is a little confusing and I am not sure if I then lose the part from my deceased husband (although SS office told me the amount would stay the same). I am not sure if this stays under my own earnings or if I can at age 66 change over to my deceased husbands benefits as he earned more than I did while working? I live in the state of PA not sure if that matters or not.
    Thank You,

    1. Don’t overthink this, and let Social Security do their job. They will pay you the highest amount you are entitled to, and it shouldn’t matter to you whether it is based on your own earnings or your deceased spouse’s earnings. What is probably happening now is that you are getting SSD plus enough of your spouse’s SS to equal what you’d get as a widow getting SS alone. When your SSD converts to SS you’ll continue getting the same amount, but it will all be widow’s benefits.

  41. My friends husband passed away over 3 years ago. She was told that she does not have to pay property taxes on their home because of a widow law tax. So she has not payed any taxes on it, but I have researched it and cannot find a law that supports this. Is this a real tax break, or is someone trying to steal her property from her?

  42. My husband died and my name is on the house. Can I pay off the house with his life insurance money and then divide the rest up between the benifieiries since it was one of his dept?

    1. If your husband named you as beneficiary of his life insurance, then those funds are yours to do with as you please. If the house was held in joint tenancy, then it goes to you upon his death, subject to the debt. So in that case you could use the life insurance to pay off the mortgage, since both would belong to you.

      If your home was not in joint tenancy, then it passes to his beneficiaries in according with his will, or if he didn’t have a will, in accordance with state law. In that case you’ll need to talk to an attorney to see what you receive. If other beneficiaries will be co-owners of the home with you, then you could use the life insurance to buy out their share, if that makes sense financially.

  43. Luisa Esposito

    I am a widow since 2008. my husband told me I could claim his ss benefit 5 years after his passing. I am 53 turning 54 in September. how can i claim my ss benefit he left me after working more than 30 y ears.?
    Please, help me.

  44. My Husband just passed away we was on social security to pay our bills from one month to another he had a small life insurance policy do i use that money to live on or do i have to pay to try to his hospital bills from it ,he had cancer and owes thousands of dollars in hospital bills ?theres not enough money from his life insurance to even pay small amounts of all of his bill ?I dont know where to start !

    1. The life insurance money belongs to you if you were the beneficiary of the policy. If he alone was responsible for the hospital bills (you didn’t sign anything saying you accepted liability) then you don’t have to pay his bills. They will try to get you to pay, but just tell them they have to show you something that says you were liable to pay them. They will ask how much was in his estate (bank account, etc) but the life insurance proceeds are not a part of his estate — they belong to you as beneficiary.

      1. Ginita ,Thank you so much i appreciate you answering me so quickly i have been worried to death about all of this ,there was so many people that tried to tell me i had to take his life insurance what is left after funeral expenses and pay those bills ,i knew it wouldn’t even make a dent in all of those bills and not to be selfish i wouldn’t have a penny to live on ,they are starting to make me feel like i am being selfish trying to keep money for myself and thats not the case by no means, Thank you so much for your help . .

      2. Dear Ginita,

        Being widowed since 2010 I have been paying my late husband’s medical bills for medical care which proved to not be beneficial to his survival. At first I was a bit angered, needlessly sad, but he begged me not to pursue any lawsuits against his ill-mannered, uncaring cardiologist. I agreed for the sake of the children and the knowledge that God sees and knows all. However, since his passing the local hospital has relentlessly pressured me to pay his medical bills. Upon me going in to the billing office years ago and making arrangements to make monthly payments I was told that there was no discount for widows and especially since I had insurance. The billing clerk went on to say that if I could afford insurance I could afford the medical bills so no discount was offered even though I am self employed at my late husband’s small business, now paying an employee to fulfill his duties which has cut household income by more than half, and truthfully I am surviving on the children’s social security benefits. With one child already over 18 and no longer receiving SSI and the second about to be 18 that assistance will be drastically cut again. I am worried about being able to pay my monthly bills including a mortgage, utilities, food, etc. I know my vehicle is beginning to act up and with a designated $50 per month for medical bills and little to no savings (not even enough to survive more than a month) I am very worried. My question is am I truly obligated to pay his medical bills after his death. I’ve received mixed advice about this but continued paying because I was raised to pay my debts and be a responsible, respectful human.

        1. You need to talk to an attorney about your obligation to pay the medical bills. You will probably be told that you are liable if you signed something agreeing that you were liable at the time he received service, or if he had assets when he died that you inherited (house, bank account, etc). If he didn’t own anything and you didn’t sign anything, then I’m guessing you aren’t liable, but I’m not an attorney qualified to give legal advice, so that’s just a personal opinion.

          1. i am a male widower for nine years, is it too late to apply? i never heard this kind of tax breake. i apriciate your reply,where i go from here. thank you.

  45. Hello, I was separated (not legally but different residences etc) for almost 12 years and my estranged husband recently passed away. I know that our daughter is eligible for survivor benefits through social security and have applied for them but, I am not sure what to do with things like his taxes. As far as I know he had not worked in two years but did not file taxes last year although he had two dependants (disabled family members that lived with him & he provided care for). I’m not sure if I even need to attempt to file taxes for him.

  46. I’m 52. My 54-year old husband passed away in March. During most of our married life together, he made more than I did, but clearly I’m working a longer period of time than he did. I understand you can begin taking ss at 60, and are entitled to a one time switch. At 60, am I allowed to take his ss benefit, keep working, then take my ss benefit at 67? I’m assuming a cap on how much I can earn if I do this.

    1. If you take his benefits at age 60, they will be reduced by 28.5% because you started early, and your own benefits will also be reduced by 28.5% when you switch over to those benefits at your full retirement age.. Your benefits before age 67 will further be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over $15,000 or so. So for example if your survivor benefits would be $2,000 a month at age 66, they will be only $1,430 if you take them at age 60. If you earn $30,000, your benefits will further be reduced by $7,500 a year, which is $625 a month, so you’ll end up with only $805 a month. And your benefits will be forever reduced by 28.5% because you began collecting before age 66. That likely will result in you getting less over your lifetime than you would have received if you had waited until full retirement age to collect.

  47. Ginita,
    My 56 year old husband passed away in February as a result of a workplace accident. He was collecting workers compensation and SSDI at the time of his death. I am 58 and still working. I will receive a Wyoming workers compensation death benefit paid monthly for the next 8 years. Can you tell me if the death benefit is taxable?

  48. My husband passed away in 2011. At the time he was receiving disability and had taken early retirement because he had cancer. I am 58 and having trouble making it. Am I eligible for widow benefits from social security? He made 3 times as much as I do. We were married for 35 years before he died.

    1. At age 60 you can begin getting benefits, but contact the Social Security Administration ( to find out if your circumstances when he died warrant you getting benefits now. If you wait until you are age 66 it will be greater, but if you need it you should take it as soon as your eligible.

  49. Hi im grace young widow 30 yr old and my pass away husband is 53 i recieve the widow pension last yeat since he was pass away can i loan on the bank? Thnks

  50. Hy iam widow since 2009 My husband,was 58,when
    He died,and we we’re married,37,years he was
    Disabled,drawing social security, for his sickness,
    and that’s the only income, we had to survive
    i am disabled, iam sorry i forgot the social security
    Was staring to help me, so was My income, also
    and food stamps,that’s all he dint have life insurance
    Or anything, he wasn’t wealty,so when he deceased,
    I went and apply for benefits, for widow,survivors,
    Social security,wouldn’t give me my husbands,benefits
    Because,iwas too young iam now 60 years ,i want
    To know if i qualified for full benefits?and if they
    Go back for the time i dint qualified please

    1. You need to talk to Social Security Administration again. You can receive reduced benefits that go back to your 60th birthday. You can’t get benefits for the period during which you were too young to receive benefits — that’s why they didn’t pay them to you then, because you didn’t qualify to receive them.

  51. My aunt became a widow 35 years ago and owns a multifmily home whic was their primary residence. She received widows pension but was told that she no longer had to file taxes after the second year of my ubcles death because her gross income was less than required, and that she could defer from filing property income until she decided to sell it. She now wants to sell what forms does she need ? She is now 80yrs old, it’s a 6 family house with 1 store, and she occupys 3 apartments for family use.

      1. Thank you for your prompt reply, What a relieve, I thought she would have a problem because she never filed taxes after that to report the rental income, So in other words all that will be taken into account when she files the 1099 ? In New York do you know the percentage she will have to pay the IRS when she sells her home ? She is a widow age 80 and half of the home is occupied by her.

        1. Thank you for your prompt reply, What a relieve, I thought she would have a problem because she never filed taxes after that to report the rental income, So in other words all that will be taken into account when she files the 1099 ? In New York do you know the percentage she will have to pay the IRS when she sells her home ? She is a widow age 80 and half of the home is occupied by her.

  52. Hi Ginita –
    Im so stuck on what to do. My father passed away over 17 years ago. My Mother never looked into any home assistance and I believe she is missing out on getting assistance with her mortgage. She has refinanced twice and now owes at leaf 2 times what the house was marked at originally! My Mother is 68 and a widow. Can you give any advice on how she can qualify for lower mortgage payments? She’s retired and still has to work a few days a week just to keep up. I hate to see her work so hard and be so tired. Help! Oh, we live in Florida by the way. I feel like Florida may have more to offer?? Im researching, but I don’t want to go through 10 steps when I can just make one right move. Any advice? Thanks for listening! : )

    1. Was your mothers name on the deed at time of death? Some time ago the Garns-St. Germaine Law was passed preventing banks from foreclosing on property if payments were current. Also widow could apply for a no fee name change adding her name to mortgage note if it wasn’t already on it. The Law allows the widow to request a mortgage adjustment to lower payments. When my husband died and I requested name change they sent a refinance package which included large closing costs. I sent a complaint to The Consumer Financial Protection Board (they’re online) and complained of Predatory Lending. They contacted the bank and received an almost immediate reply. They are tossing the refinance and sending a no fee name change. I suggest you contact them about your case. Send any documentation that supports it, and let them know what you feel a fair resolution would be. Did she use the same bank for each refinance? If so, perhaps a fair resolution would be to reinstate the mortgage as it was at the time the Law was passed and ask that it then be modified as to the monthly payment. Also, I’d request a refund of the closing costs since the bank acted in a predatory manner – you’ve nothing to lose. The CFPB requires the bank to respond within 15 days and you can follow the process on line. I’d suggest keeping a note page of the name, date and phone number of any bank employee who calls along with a summary of call.

  53. Nolindo Sincindi

    I was widowed in 2007 so I did not know that the money I am earning is not taxed now I am in bad debt I owe SARS a lot of money

  54. Hello. I’m 70 years old. My husband died in 2001 from Suicide. He was a teacher. I receive his SS money. Just curious. Is there anything else that is due me as his widow? He was in the military. Also can I get my SS money too? Thank you.

  55. Hello. My husband committed suicide in. 2001. He was a teacher. I received some money from the union when he passed and I am getting his social security. I’m 70 years old. Is there anything available to me. Oim in dire straights right now. I was in such depression since his death, I have done nothing to help myself.

    1. Check with the Social Security people to be sure that you are getting as much money as you can, given your circumstances. You can also check with the military to see if there are any benefits that he was entitled to that did not pass to you for some reason.

  56. I forgot to tell you, he was a sergeant in the army in the army. I never checked if there was any help for me in that regard. I’m not selfish, I just wanted to ask someone. It was the late 70s when he was in service.

  57. My husband died at age 58 in september 2014, I am 55 yrs old, I am suggested by friends that I can get his ss benefits right now. Please help.

  58. Mylee Thao-Xiong

    My husband was a state employee. He just passed away at the age of 34. We have four children and one on the way. Since his death, it has been very difficult taking on all our finances alone. My children and I had to move in with my sister-in-law because I could no longer afford our rent. Do you know if there is any widows housing benefits for state employees who are not veterans? We were planning on buying a house next year, but never got the opportunity to do so. Please help…Thanks.

  59. Hello,

    A friend’s husband died a couple weeks ago at the age of 48. He was a California teacher and I’m helping her navigate her finances. I’m trying to weigh the numbers of a Survivor Benefits Monthly Allowance for the rest of her life vs a Members remaining Defined Benefit Lump Sum. It looks like the monthly benefit has to pay regular federal/state income taxes which makes sense. But I’m having a hard time confirming whether the monthly payments are also subject to an additional 10% federal and 2.5% California state tax (or penalty.) It looks like in the event of death she would not have to pay this additional penalty but wondering if you can confirm either way? Please help – thank you!

  60. My husband of 38 years died in 2009. He worked and paid into social security all of his life, except for a few years when he owned a business. He got behind in his payroll taxes, always intended to work harder and pay them off, then he got cancer. While he was ill, the economy took a dive and business was terrible. We basically lost our house, and the business wasn’t worth anything. My question is, when I turn 67, can I collect his social security? I plan on working until then.

  61. My spouse passed away on May 15, 2014.
    I am trying to determine how to file my federal taxes in 2015.
    My spouse was retired military. He was receiving
    retirement pay as well as disability pay.
    I am receiving widower’s pay as well as DIC from VA.
    I also receive SSIA from military.
    We have no dependents (children) at home.
    I am retired and have no other income or pension.
    Since I am not employed and have no earnings for this year,
    What income of my spouse and mine do I report.
    Thanks for any info you can provide.

  62. My husband passed away Sept 2014 he got a loan on his 401k just before is paasing am i responsible for the penalities on the loan

  63. My mom started receiving her deceased husband’s retirement benefits in 2002 and was told she didn’t have to pay taxes. She just got a letter from IRS wanting to know where 2013 filing is? We’re confused. She gets around $1,300 from deceased husband.

    1. Retirement benefits are taxable as income. If she is over 65 and her income exceeded $11,500 for 2013, she was required to file a tax return. If not, let the IRS know that her income was not high enough to require a tax return.

  64. My husband died in March 2014. He owned a home which is currently in foreclosure. He also had some debt which I think he may get some 1099-C’s as it was debt and then might be classed as income. Will I be responsible for any taxes that will undoubtedly occur because of the 1099″s? I don’t think I/we would have owed taxes otherwise. Can I file married filing separately if I need to?

  65. My husband passed away at the age of 61 in December 2013. He has an IRA that I need to convert either to my own, or to an inherited IRA. He also has a business. If I choose to go with an inherited IRA, is that money protected should the business fail? Does it make more sense to roll the money into an IRA in my name? I’m 53 and currently contribute almost equally to both SS and PERS. Will I have the option at retirement of collecting my full PERS and as a widow, my husbands SS? Thank you.

    1. Since you are younger than 59 1/2, if you need the money you would be better off remaining a named beneficiary in the inherited IRA. If you roll the money into your IRA and then withdraw any of it, you’ll pay a 10% penalty until 59 1/2. Instead, if you remain a named beneficiary, you can tap the account without penalty. To be a named beneficiary, you must retitle the account as an inherited IRA. Retirement assets can’t be pledged as security for business debts and so are usually protected when a business fails. when you reach retirement age, you can collect both your PERS and Social Security widow benefits, but 2/3 of the PERS payments will offset the widow benefits.

  66. My sister and I are beneficiaries from my Mom’s life insurance policies. She died last year. We split some of the money with our brothers and sisters and plan to use the rest to pay off her house once probate closes. Do we have to pay taxes on this money?

  67. My husband age 67 died in May 2013. I am currently 51. I filed our federal tax return in April of 2014, thru a tax accountant. I still have not received my refund. My tax lady said that she has talked to the IRS several times and apparently all widows in 2013 are still waiting. Have you heard that? What can i do to get my refund? Whats going to happen with this years refund? Thanks.

  68. My mother in law is a widow on SS & has never been required to file taxes. She sold her home last year & now wonders if she needs to file taxes this year?

    1. If she had a gain of less than $250,000 when she sold her home, she isn’t required to pay taxes on the gain. Matter of fact, if she signed paperwork at escrow that said that her gain was less than $250,000, she doesn’t even have to report the sale on her tax return. So she doesn’t need to file a tax return this year unless she does receive a 1098 form from the escrow company regarding the sale, which will mean she didn’t sign the appropriate paperwork when it sold.

  69. have Inherited ira from my husband have never taken out distribution since 2011
    was I supposed to? bc it was inherited

      1. Husband died in 2008
        @ 59 1/2 yrs .He had several ita’s where I was named beneficiary. I went to bank and they told me the options to leave it alone , transfer into my name it re-title in my name as beneficiary of my husband which is the one I chose . I have read and was told that I wouldn’t have to draw this money out until he would have turned 70 1/2 which is now . The bank is telling me that even though it’s tiltled as inherited I was suppose to have withdrawn all funds within 5 yrs of his passing . They say I have to cash out the entire amount of $ 55,000 . I so confused .

        1. Here’s what I found on the internet:
          If you have an inherited spousal IRA:
          You can begin taking RMDs in the year after the year of death, or
          You can delay beginning RMDs until your spouse would have turned age 70½ (this is good to know if you were older than your spouse), or
          You can invoke the 5-year rule, which means you have 5 years during to withdraw the funds.

          The IRA must be registered properly, and should include the name of the person you inherited from, an indication that the account is an IRA beneficiary distribution account, and your name, as the inheritor.

          1. It is titled in my name as beneficiary of my deceased spouse. I set it up on a fixed 60 month cd @ their interest rates. They have continually renewed them every 5 yrs . Went to start the rmd’s because he would be /70 1/2 yrs old now and they are telling me that I had to withdraw within 5yrs of death. Their is nothing on p/work regarding 5 yr rule , only the cd being setup on 60 months fixed rate. They will not let me start rmd’s , saying the only thing I can do is cash them all out . Does their p/work have to state 5 yr rule somewhere. I researched this all after he died and knew about the different options and that is why I left it as inherited .
            What can I do ?


    1. If you remarried at age 60 or later, you can collect benefits on whatever record will give you the highest benefit. Discuss this with Social Security and they will make that determination. Once they have all the information in their records, they will automatically keep track of changing circumstances and switch you to the highest benefit as life happens and things change.

  71. I was widowed at 38 when my husband was 42 and I have two children; then ages 4 and 11, now 17 and 24. I was manipulated by our family physician in to a volatile marriage and have since divorced but have developed PTSD as a result of his abuse. I have a few questions. Do you know of any way of regaining my power by filing a claim against him in court for his abuse? We live in PA. Also as a result, I am in debt and trying to negotiate with creditors to settle for less than the amount owed. I have too much equity in my home to file bankruptcy. I need help paying my bills and help making a car payment. My children are also going to or are in college. He is third year towards seven years of being an architect. And she wants to be interior architect/designer. What resources do you know of to help them with schooling that I may not know of? Also if you know of any assistance programs for pet care and food. We have four. Any help would be appreciated until I get back on my feet. He stole about ten years of my life and I lost widow benefits, lost wages, spent probably $20 to $25,000 in divorce; had to buy a timeshare that was purchased with his salary. So I lost a TON of money because of a predator on a vulnerable widow. Anything you could do is appreciated. Thank you.

  72. My common law husband passed away over fifteen years ago but before the divorce was final. It was determined by the court that a marriage did exist over ten years. I remarried five years ago and retired a year ago. I worked for the county and receive $2038 per month in retirement benefits. Will I still be eligible to receive widows pension at age 60from my deceased spouse?

  73. My husband died in late 2013 at age 49, due to a sudden cardiac arrest. I was 42, now 43. I received his death benefits (life insurance, deferred compensation, pension) in early 2014. I had the required 20% withheld, as I was advised to, on the pension and deferred compensation. All the money went quick paying off the mortgage, car, and repairing/upgrading the house so I can sell the house eventually and get something smaller (not an apartment). I make about $40,000 a year. I was advised by a tax specialist that based on the paperwork I sent him, I could owe the IRS about $20,000!!!! Ouch! I’m just wondering if some mistake was made. I did not yet send him any official tax documents…just the letters I originally had when I filed for the death benefits. I should not face such a penalty for being a surviving spouse and I was named as the designated beneficiary. Should I wait until I receive all official documents and try again and see if I can claim some deductions, such as on the home improvements?

  74. A good friend passed away at the end of May, 2007. He was young and left behind a wife and two young boys. His friends have been hosting an event each Memorial Day Weekend to raise money for his sons’ education. I’m guessing over the past seven years we’ve raised $12-$15k for them. We’ve been providing this to his widow in the form of cash and checks. Is there anything she can do, short of establishing a trust, that would prevent these contributions from being taxed as income?

  75. My husband passes away 2 months ago. I have 2 dependant teenagers living at home. I was told in the state of Georgia that there is a program that will pay a widows mortgage for one year until she is able to get on her feet again. Do you know anything about this program? Is it just a state thing or a federal government thing? I live in PA and am really hoping that there is something like that out there for me.

  76. Hello, my husband died sept 2014. I am 57, so I can not draw ss. I get all of this… My questions is with it being just me, would it be a good idea for me to buy a small home for myself.. to offset the taxes… Not sure what to do… renting is easier but I need to hold onto everything I can until I get to ss age… Thanks for you help… I now live in KY…

  77. Hi…My husband died in December 2013. He was 71 years old & had a part time job. In 2014 I filed a joint return and reported him as deceased. The company issued a small bonus check in 2014 & sent a W-2 Tax document for 2014. How do I handle this? Since he was not alive in 2014.. do I file a joint return to report it or do I file single for me & do a separate 1040 for him? I don’t know what to do. Thank you.

      1. Thank you…there is no estate. I’m making an appt. with a tax man. I just received 2 1099-c forms 2 days ago. Quite a mess. The IRS has no answer for me either…thank you again for you help.

  78. Hi Ginita, my husband died in August 2014. He was 58 years old. I am 56. We have a son who is 15 years old. I was told that I can only collect social security benefits until my son is 16. Why only until the age of 16….and is it normally only a monthly payment or a lump sum? I still have to support him on my own. My son is also receiving social security benefits until he is 18. Any comments or advise you can provide would be great. thank you so much!

  79. My husband passed away at age 55, in 2002 i dont remember how much he worked, now i have 59 years old. How do i know how much and when i can take his death benefits? I’m not working since 2010

    1. Emilia & Ginita,
      I signed up for social security widow benefits when I was 59.So at age 60 it automatically started one month and a few days after my 60th birthday. It also does not start on your birthday like I thought. Also mine check comes the third Wednesday of the month so you might want to ask when you sign up, To see which day of the week your check will fall on because there are different days then from when my check comes. If you are set up on automatic bill payment the date you receive your check does not stay the same. And you have to take this in to consideration when setting up your bill paying dates, So it does not fall on a date before your money arrives to the bank. I had most problems with this in the being because I did not know this, I’m sure they told me but I did not recall until I went to pay bills 2 days after I was expecting my check & it had not came. Of course this was late night paying bills online freaking until morning came to see why I had not received my check. So a couple of mine I had to get a month ahead to make sure they did not get canceled like my Car Insurance. Hope this is helpful too.

  80. i am going to be 62 in April 2015. I have collected widows benefits
    since Jan last year. I had never heard of widows benefits so did not know to file till then. Was i eligible for them to be paid last year snd should they have been paid for what i missed?
    Aldo since i was told i can file for ss in this year in April and my earnings
    were much lower than the widows pension, do i still need to file ss
    and should i? my earnings are lower than anything my husband made. Should i be able to receive both?
    i really think i should wait and file for ss at 66 if i can receive both. I just dont understand
    what to do? thanks

    1. You get the higher of your own benefits or your widow benefits. Since your widow benefits are higher, that’s what you get. You don’t get both.
      If you collect widow’s benefits at age 60, you only get about 70% of what you’d get if you waited until age 66. Because you began when you were 61, you are getting more each month than if you had collected at age 60, so you haven’t missed anything. If you want to collect more each month, you could suspend payments and not collect anything more until you are 66, and then get a higher amount at age 66. But you would have missed out on the payments between now and then, which you may need. The payments at any age are geared to be comparable over your lifetime to the payments at any other age, so you haven’t missed out on anything and you haven’t made any mistakes by taking benefits now rather than waiting until age 66. If you need the money now, keep collecting each month just as you are doing. You are doing fine.

      1. Thank you for being precise and encouraging. This was a new concept for me and glad i made the right decisions as i was living on $350.00 a month and starving. Reality check for those who think seniors should be well off by then

  81. I am a widowed mother of 3. I work and collect social security for myself and the 3 kids. when I file my taxes do I add just my net benefits for 2014 or do I need to add all SSA-1099 together and put that on my taxes????

  82. I was married to my first husband for 26 years. We divorced, than I met and married my second husband. We were married for 4 years, 8 months than he past away at the age of 60 and I was 50. He did not collect any benifits from social security. I returned to the work force to provide for myself and now approching the age of 60. I have never married because I knew I would be able to collect my deceased husbands full benifits when the time came for me to retire. I am now engaged to be married after I turn 60. My question is who’s benifits can I collect at the age of 62 and can I keep my deceased husbands benefits to collect at my age of 66?

    1. If you quit work and begin collecting benefits at age 62, you will get the highest benefit to which you are entitled — your own based on your earnings record, spousal benefits based on your husband’s earnings record (if he has applied for benefits), or widow’s benefits based on your deceased spouse’s earnings. The amount you receive will be reduced because you begin collecting at age 62.

  83. My husband died in March 2014. He had several insurance policies and on 2 of them instead of cashing the policies in I opted to turn them into annuities. I want to know if it becomes necessary to used some of the annuity money to pay a large bill will I have to pay tax on the money I withdrew from my annuity? I just turned 65 this year, am still working and began receiving social security widow benefits in January 2015.

    1. You will have to pay tax on the investment earnings within the annuity, but not on the portion that is the death benefit. The insurance company can tell you how much of the payout will be taxable earnings and how much will be non-taxable death benefits.

  84. Robin P. Teater

    My husband died in September 2014 and I am going to file a joint federal/state tax return in the near future but I have a question before I can. My husband was allowed to claim his son on his taxes per court order and per signed tax document in past years. (I don’t remember the form number but his ex-wife signed it giving tax rights to my husband.) They had joint custody of three children and the ex-wife was to claim two children and my husband was to claim one. Since this is technically my husband’s last tax return, can I still claim his son as his dependent for 2014 (only)?

  85. Hey Ginita, My mom just received a 1099c for cancellation of debt for $5,800 from a credit card company in reguards to my deceased dad’s account. My dad passed away in July of 2013. The 1099c was for 2014. My mom filed a joint tax return for the tax year 2013 since my dad did have income for over 6 months of this year to report. The credit debt was solely my dad’s and she lives in a common law state, Mississippi. My question is, does she have to file this? My dad was already deceased, and of course had no income for 2014 and she was not responsible for the debt itself anyway.

    1. If the 1099C was in your father’s name, then the income is reportable by his estate.An estate is required to file if it has income of $600 or more. If he had no estate (no bank accounts, real estate, etc), then there is nothing that the IRS could go after to collect any taxes due on the return. You probably need to talk to an Enrolled Agent or CPA or tax attorney concerning your mom’s particular situation.

      1. Thanks Ginita, Since she lives in a common law state dad did not leave an estate if i’m not mistaken. Not as long as she is living. Please let me know if i’m wrong. You’re right, we do need to consult a attorney or CPA though. Again, thanks!!

  86. What a wonderful web site and what a help you are to so many! My husband passed 12/3/14 and I understand I should file jointly for 2014. He was paid an income up to his death and was also collecting Social Security. His income was over the limit and it looks a though all the SS paid him will have to be repaid. I will be 60 this April 2015. I am uncertain how to repay this, will I get a bill from SS or will it be taken out of my SS? What is the best way to approach this debt that may be as much as 18K which is what he was paid in SS for 2014. I want to try to avoid taxes too but do not know how to do that. Will there be a credit back on taxes if I have to pay taxes on the SS considered as income and then I repay the SS, will I get a tax credit for next year? It is very confusing. THank you

    1. If he received a payment for December, that would have to be repaid since he didn’t live throughout the month. If he was under full retirement age, and he earned over $15,480 for the year, he would have to repay $1 for every $2 earned over that limit. Their claim is against his estate, not against you, so the debt shouldn’t be deducted from your benefits. If he didn’t own anything at his death (bank accounts, real estate, etc) then there won’t be any way for them to collect. If he did, then the amount due will have to be paid from those funds. I don’t know how the tax return would work — check with your tax accountant.

  87. My husband passed away in December. He was a retired postal worker. I have not received any of his retirement, none of his life insurance connected with his job, no social security, and nothing from vets. I am out of money. I can’t go to the doctor because I have not been given permission to use our health insurance and I’m running low on medication and can not order that for fear I will have to pay full price.
    I reported his death right away to OPM and they made sure his January check was stopped. I’m suppose to get a packet from them to fill out and still have not got that.It looks like it may be another 2 months before I get anything from them. They are not even confirming to MetLife that my husband was an OPM member, so MetLife won’t pay. I can’t believe this can happen. Every time I call any of them all I get is excuses.

    1. Sharon,
      Sorry for your loss & hate to discourage you. But it took me a full year to get my Husbands MetLife insurance we paid on for 25 years it took that long for the autopsy report back. My husband was hurt on the job & was in a coma & never came out of it. We worked at the same Company him 25 yrs. & me 11yrs. I never received any insurance money from workers comp it’s been almost two yrs., not even a courtesy call saying I was not getting anything. since his death and they laid me off 1 yr. & 1 mo. after his death I was told it was nothing I has done they were restructuring the Company. I did not sue now I wonder did I do right. I assume it’s to late now. Do not wait like I did until it’s to late bring the nice guy

  88. My mom is a widow, sold her home last year in June.. She paid taxes on this home. I am trying to find out from her lawyer (who never returns calls) if she has a legal right to post these taxes to her income tax ? Thanks,,,

  89. Ginita, hope you can help this.
    Our father passed away last year and we filed father as dependent. What could effect on our income tax for this year? Our father received SSN, and pensions (under exemption amount). Can we still file with his as dependent for this year? Do they need to have 1041 ?

    1. If you met the requirements for claiming your father as a dependent during the time he was alive in 2014, then you can claim him as a dependent. The dependency exemption is not reduced because of death of the dependent. Since you say his income for 2014 does not exceed the amount required to file a tax return, you will not need to file a final income tax return for him for 2014. If there was little or no income to his estate after his death, which I’m guessing there wasn’t, no estate income tax return Form 1041 will be required.

      1. Ginita,
        Thank you so much for quick reply and I appreciate it.
        After his death, we had approximately total $15,000 and we spread out with siblings half. So, I am guessing this amount is not required to file Form 1041? Just clarify it for us.

  90. My husband died on january 24, 2015. I am confused if I need to immediately change my W4 withholding to single. Can I leave it as married? I am the primary wage earner, but will collect half of his pension. I am concerned that going immediately to “single” will have a negative tax implication on my 2015 taxes. Also, I plan to collect social security at age 66. He was 62 when he died and was not collecting social security. Am I entitled to his benefit when I turn 66?
    Thank you so much.

    1. You are eligible to file a joint tax return with him for 2015, and so you can leave your marital status for withholding purposes as married. Once you are full retirement age, you can collect your full widow benefits unreduced by your earnings over %15,720.

  91. If I claim my Mother-in-law as a dependent on my taxes, and she would happen to pass away, would that make me liable for her unpaid bills?

  92. My husband passed away in 2012. His estate has been settled and finalized. I found (2.5 years later) he had bought some stocks worth approx. $30K. I cashed some in and now wonder if I am in big trouble?

    1. If his entire estate went to you, then I doubt you are in trouble. If his estate was to go to someone else, then they are the rightful owner of some or all of the stocks, not you. And if his estate was greater than $5 million (!!), there may be estate taxes due on the stock you found.

  93. My husband just passed away in January 2015. He was collecting a retirement annuity from the Federal government, and a tiny annuity from a private employer. When he signed up for both of these annuities, we chose the survivor annuity option, which reduced his annuity. Do these annuities have to be included in the valuation of his estate? If so, how is this done since they are monthly payments? I do not believe I have to file a Federal estate tax return, but I may have to file a Massachusetts estate tax return because MA estate threshold is much lower than the Federal. Thank you.

  94. My sister’s husband passed away about 8 months ago. My sister is 50, her husband was 62 at the time of his death. He had no life insurance because of his bad health. He did have retirement, which they were receiving contributions from before his death. She has continued to receive those contributions monthly. She has been a homemaker for 30+ years. Her husband had gone on disability after his retirement due to health issues, and unfortunately that benefit was cut off from her at this death. She has a car and another loan currently that she pays on plus monthly utilities, etc. The retirement check of about $1700 monthly is all she has to live off of. Should she consider taking a loan or early withdrawal from the retirement in order to pay off the car and other loan, which should allow her to better handle her bills monthly. The funds she would need would be around $30,000 and the total retirement plan is now at about 185,000??? Thank you.

  95. My husband passed away on Easter this year,He was Recieveing Disabilty Benifets in Missouri, He Started receiveing Back pay from 2012 when He should have been approved but wasn’t ,he was approved May 2013,an received the back pay after he passed away I have received 2 Forms SSA-1099 for 2013 & 2014 ,I want to know can I file these at tax time,because I am 52 yrs old an Do not recieve Widows Benifets ,
    Even thou He was Our soul supporter an income when he worked construction for 22 years, I was told i could file at age 60 for the widows benifets,an I was in a car accident in October an was hurt pretty bad an is looking at a possible partial disabilty from the wreck, but any advice would be great Thank you

    1. For 2014 you may file a joint income tax return with your deceased spouse, and you will report his income on the return along with your own. Or if you like you can each file your own tax returns, but a joint return would probably be more beneficial. At age 60 you can receive reduced widow benefits from Social Security. Meanwhile you may be eligible for disability benefits.

  96. Hello my wife died on 11.02.2015. she worked teacher in private school.
    She was an American Citizenship, but I’m not American citizen. We are Brazilians.
    We got married since January 2010 here in massachusets.
    In 2011 I had a stroke and was desabilty. But I never received anything from the government because I’m not American citizen.
    With the death of my wife who was an American citizen, I am entitled to some benefit?
    If yes, what should I do and what benefits I have.?
    Thank you

    1. You likely are entitled to Social Security benefits. Contact Social Security Administration and tell them of your situation. If she was covered under other retirement plans, you may have other benefits coming from those sources as well.

  97. My husband died Dec. of 2013. He had a 401 k that I was the beneficiary of. I took the money out in 2014, paid taxes on it and used it to purchase a house outright along with some of the inurance money. Is there any tax deductions that I’m entitled to for buying a house. The federal tax I withheld on it was 25% state was at 15%.

  98. My husband passed away in Nov. 2014 at 47 years old. Can I contribute the maximum for both of us to an IRA for 2014? Thank you so much for your help.

    1. IRA contributions can’t be made on behalf of a deceased person, even though that person had compensation before he died and could have made an IRA contribution. Because an IRA is for the benefit of the IRA owner, a deceased IRA owner cannot possibly benefit from an IRA contribution made for him after he died.

      If you would like to make an IRA contribution for yourself, you can use your deceased spouse’s compensation to do that. Under the spousal IRA rules, you can use the compensation your deceased spouse earned prior to death and make an IRA contribution to your own IRA.

  99. My step-father passed recently. He was making payments to the State of Illinois for back child support with late fees to his first wife. The late and non-payments accrued prior to their marriage (over 23 years ago). He left no assets in his estate. Will my mother be obligated to continue making payments? or does his obligation pass with him?

  100. I got married in August, my husband passed away in November. He had a will that I was not in. His daughters only. He worked from January to July. The attorney for the will said I cannot file a joint return with him because we were not married when he earned the income. Is this true?

    1. If you were married at the time of his death, you can file a joint tax return for the year. All of his income will go on that tax return, not just the portion earned during the period of his marriage, just as it would if he were still alive and filing a joint tax return with him.

  101. My husband passed away when I had 2 minor kids. I collected his life insurance money and put it in a cd. Now one of my minor kid is 19 and is heading to college, can I give him all the money for college escrow account? Does he have to pay any tax? Please advise

  102. My husband died in 1996, a small pension was passed onto to me he was only 54 the pension was nominal amount. with increments each year now in 2015 I get approx. 5,000.00 per year. I pay tax as I recieve a state pension now but have moved to France and now have french tax who are looking into my income, which is only the private pension and state. but I have heard that as I have private pension it could be subject to French tax. as France do not have private pensions in there systems. any ideas. I really do not need this as I have paid all taxes due thru Uk, do not want to get involved with the French system But can the French insist that I transfer my private to France.
    Sorry so long drawn out

  103. I have been a widow for 12 years coming this May 25th and my husband and I were both 35 at the time of his death from a massive heart attack. I am now 47 and I believe I cannot receive any benefits until I am 60 and full benefits at 66. He has no children. My question is how long does a couple have to be married in order for the widow to receive the deceased husbands Social Security? We were married for 6 years before he passed away. Also, what happens if I remarry before or after I start receiving his social security? I live in Ohio, not sure if the rules are different in other states. Thanks in advance!!

    1. Social Security is a federal program, so it doesn’t matter where you live. Reduced widow’s benefits are payable at age 60 if you were married for at least 9 months, which you were. If you remarry at age 60 or later, you can collect widow’s benefits based on your first husband if those exceed other benefits to which you are entitled, such as your own benefits or spousal benefits from your second husband.

  104. Ok, but what if I remarry now at age 47? Will I still be entitled to either husbands Social Security or Retirement? I divorced my first husband and my second husband passed away while we were married.

    1. if you remarry at age 47, when you reach retirement age and your husband applies for benefits, you’ll be able to collect spousal benefits.
      If you divorce, you’ll be able to collect divorced spouse benefits or widows benefits based on your deceased former spouse’s history.
      If your husband dies, you’ll be able to collect widows benefits based on his earnings history or that of your deceased former spouse.

  105. I taught from 1968 to 2011 as an elementary school teacher in Georgia. My husband died in 2008. When I tries to collect my husband’s social security, the Social Security Department said that I could not double dip into federal funds. I really needs help. He did not work at a federal job, but a blue collar job. Have the rules changed since, so at least I can collect a portion of his funds?

    1. If you are collecting a pension from your teaching job, the rule is that 2/3 of your pension will offset any benefits you are entitled to on your husband’s social security record. So maybe what they were telling you is that under that rule, the social security would be eliminated and so you would receive nothing.

  106. So if I remarry now, I can still collect former husbands, living or deceased, retirement and social security based on whoever worked the most, correct? I’ve had people tell me I can’t collect either if I remarry. Sorry i’m a little confused ????


  108. If I am on widow of 62 years old on SSI widows benefits and receive money for a pipeline crossing my land, is this considered a “change in income” as stated in the SSI documentation? Also, if I sell a portion of land adjoining my homestead, is that a “change in income?”

    1. It isn’t a change in income, but it may be a change in resources. In order to receive SSI, you can only have up to $2,000 in resources if you are single. Resources include things like cash, checking and savings accounts, and stocks and bonds. You must tell the SSA about assets that you receive and any new financial account that has your name on it, even if you never use the money or account. Depending on what the account is used for, the SSA may be able to help you set up the account so it will not affect your SSI.

  109. My husband pass in October 2014,we married for 59 years. We lived in the same house for 40 years
    now I need to sale to move to smallest place is any seniors tax on the sale of the only residence?
    Before was up two years when one of the spouse die, to be claim the one time tax free up to $500.000 .
    how long after one of the spouses die can be sale the residence and apply for.
    Before was two years after one of the spouse die, now it is the same.? or I need to apply for the $250000 us a widower.

    1. The house gets a stepped up tax basis to it’s value at the date of his death. And you can claim a $250,000 capital gains exclusion for any amount it went up in value after his death. So you will not end up owing any capital gains tax.

  110. I need some advice. My husband and I separated for a little while and he was ordered to pay monthly child support for our son. We had got back together and dropped the child support but they were still making him pay the back child support he was ordered to pay before we got back together. In September of 2014 he passed away. I filled taxes like I was told under married joint. This morning I check where’s my refund and it says that my entire refund was taken and I got the 203 code about back child support! I don’t understand why they are taking my refund for the back support ordered tobe paid to me!!! I’m in shock! I’m in the middle of trying to fix all the things that my late husband destroyed in our home. I needed that refund to change somethings just so my son willcome live at home now! My husband passed away on our kitchen floor!!! For my sons mental and emotional health I HAVE to make our home look different. Why on earth would the IRS do this to us?!?!? Please if anyone has any suggestions on how I might get this fixed please please I need help.

  111. I’m in desperate need of advice. I’m a 30 year old widow. My husband and I had separate for awhile and he was ordered to pay child support, which he refused to do so it just pilled up, when we got back together we got the child support dropped but they said he still had to pay the back child support. (again he refused) My husband passed away in September of 2014 in the kitchen of our after he tried burning our house down and completely destroyed it. I filled my taxes for 2014 as marriage joint and listed him deceased in September. That was how I was advised to file. I was supposed to have my refund today and beable to get everything I need to fix my home so my son can come home and live in a safe house. So excited that I was gonna be able to finally afford to make our home liveable I check wheres my refund at 2am because I couldn’t sleep. To my horror it said my entire fed tax refund was being captured!!!! I didn’t go back to sleep. I researched the code that the IRS put on the page and found out that MY federal taxs were being captured by the child support enforcement of mn for the back pay the my deceased veteran husband had owed!!!! How and why would they do that??? Our child support case has been closed for a long time! It was back child support owed to me that frankly and excuse my language didn’t give a shit about. Does anyone know how I can go about getting my refund back from them. I don’t believe that’s right. It wasn’t his tax return he was listed as deceased! I’m desperate!!! I need that to fix my home so I can at least have my son! Damn it I already lost my husband! Please please if anyone knows anything it would be more than greatly appreciated!

  112. April 10, 2015
    My husband passed away in 1997 at 50 years of age and I started receiving 2 small pension benefits from the company he worked for. These are not government ( Federal, State or Local) pensions. I elected to pay tax on these at the end of each year. Started receiving Social Security Benefits / Widows this year/ 2015… my question is will these 2 small pension benefits need to be reported to Social Security as income and will they affect my benefit amount? Your help will be most appreciated!

  113. My friends live in boyfriend of many, many years died of cancer this past year. He had been collecting benefits from the VA for a partial, not total, disability from a stint in the military in the late 1970s. After his death, she found out he had some type of survivor plan, for his first and only wife—not the children of his first marriage, through the VA. She has her “husband’s” ( she feels she is his lawful wife now that she has lived with him for 15 years) old divorce paperwork from his only marriage of 15 years and there is no mention of any reward of these survivor benefits to his first wife or children, who are now grown. So she contacted the proper people at the VA, but they are refusing to recognize her status as “wife” of the deceased. She lives in Alabama and has lived in Alabama for at least 15 years with her live in ‘husband”. Alabama is supposed to be a common law marriage state. The VA said she and her now deceased live in boyfriend “did not hold herself out to the community, as husband and wife”. She has children by her live in boyfriend or “husband”. She began living with him after he was legally divorced in another state. What can she do now?

  114. with my husbands accidental death payout, I bought annuities, with 200,000. dollar accidental death payout,, I have received some dividends and lost some over the years,, but I closed the annuity at 180,000.after I turned 60 , penalty free. to pay off my mortgage,, it was coded as income. I’m told that the life ins money was not taxable , and not an income, how do I find out what I actually owe IRS?
    as it is now coded, it shows me owing IRS, 34,000.

  115. It’s been 10 years in june that my husband passed and I did receive some insurance money what my daughter and I lived off and splitting with other children. I lost my job about 4 years ago and I have never been able to stay up on the taxes now I have been denied for SSD so can I still aply for some sort of taxes relief I’m getting read to lose my home. My daughter is the only one working a part time job so we are behind in everything…please help me!

  116. My friend was recently widowed. Her husband of less than a year had cancer and sadly passed away after his long battle.

    They had a house, which is mortgaged and she has a relatively well paying job for a single person, however this is only enough to cover the mortgage and doesn’t cover all her other outgoings.

    Nevertheless, due to her being only 29, she seems to miss out on financial benefits and support and, as he was unable to get life insurance, she is really struggling financially.

    Is there any support out there that she can receive in her situation to help her pay the bills at this difficult time? Any suggestions would be gratefully received. Thanks.

    1. She may need to think about selling the house and renting somewhere that is less expensive. Her basic costs for housing shouldn’t exceed 40% of her income, and it sounds as though it is 100% of her income, which won’t work for her.

  117. i lost my husband in 2014 and now everything in probate as we were only married 6 months. he had a heart attack at the age of 56. i’m getting his social security as i am now 66. however, the amount is $770. they just gave me a raise from $730. my husband made well over $3 million during his life. am i entitled to more than the amount mentioned? i also get my own disability of $898 a month. now they are dropping my Medicare B benefits as they say i reached full retirement age. medical was paying for this. i am just trying to establish my monthly salary as this is all i have to live on. so now my monthly amount will be $1562. that’s not a lot to live on in California. i just want to know where all my husband’s taxes on his lifetime of working went. who benefits from it? obviously not me.

    1. Contact Social Security and ask them to give you a report of how your benefits are computed. If your husband’s employment was covered under the social security system all his life, the amount you are receiving seems very low for a widow’s benefit, even if it is reduced becuase you began collecting before age 66. If your disability payment is from social security, that may explain it, since they are paying $898 plus $770, which seems more reasonable. As for Medicare B benefits, be sure you opt into the program so you have coverage for doctors — the premium will be deducted from the social security payments you receive.

  118. Hello- I recently received a proposed bill from IRS for $63,000 for 2013. My husband passed away and his company he worked for moved his 401K into a personal account in my name. I never touched the money because I thought they placed the money in a roll over retirement account. Is there anything I can do at this point?

  119. My husband passed in April 2014 and we have a beautiful 7 year old daughter. I am a week away from purchasing a home for us. I though about a mortgage but the interest rate for me is sky high. Also my husband took pride in providing a home for our family. So I have thought I could pay off the house right away and live off my the SSA my daughter gets. But now I am finding that I can’t do that. I don’t think I can spend the whole SSA on NEEDS monthly. Can I have her pay me “rent” or should I have taken out a mortgage?

    Don’t be mad that my husband worked hard and I do get a large amount every month. I am 30 trying to do this on my own. I do have a college scholarship for her, all my accounts have her as a beneficiary if I die and everything. Just don’t want her to have a large lump sum when she turns 18 and waist it. I can invest better for her.

  120. Hi, I lost my 53 y/o husband in 2013 unexpectedly due to a heart attack in his sleep at home. He had been recently laid off and through a miracle his funeral was paid for. At the time of his death, I was unemployed. I did the required things with the SSA office and filed for and received the lump sum survivor benefit. My husband and I were married in 2005 and currently I am 53 and we have a 23 y/o son living at home and working part-time, which has been extremely helpful. (he is unable to work fulltime due to a 504)

    I returned to work in 2014. My question is when am I eligible to receive widow benefits and would my son be eligible for ssi? The SSA office said I needed to work for at least 10 years (at his death, I was 51). Would I loose this option if I re-marry?

    just before my husband’s death, we found out we owed the IRS $35G and our house (at the time) was in foreclosure. With penalties, the tax bill is higher and the foreclosred house is on the market. I received a 1099A. What does this mean?

    Thank you so much.

    1. I don’t know rules regarding SSI, so I can’t advise you about that — I do know that it is needs-based. You will be eligible for reduced widows benefits at age 60, or if you wait until age 66 to collect, you can receive full widows benefits equal to what your husband would have received if he had lived. If you remarry before age 60, you won’t get widows benefits, but you will be eligible for spousal benefits based on your new spouse’s earnings history. Those benefits are equal to 50% of benefits based on his earnings history. If you remarry at age 60 or older, then you can choose whichever benefit is higher, widow benefits or spousal benefits.

      The 1099A is income to you, since you were forgiven debt in the foreclosure that was greater than the market value of the home.

    1. Loretta Hughes (Stiff)

      I get widow benefits form my deceased husband. Will I loose it if I got married again. I also get SSA will I loose that too?

  121. I was married for 21 years, then divorced in 1999 my husband had a a 501(c) employee contribution pension plan through his union employer. My ex husband passed away in jan of 2015. I received a lump sum death benefit from his union which were the contributions he put into this 501(C) plan. I received a check for $46,000 since not only was i his wife of 21 years but also his beneficiary. Do I have to pay taxes on this money? I shared this money with our children, does this matter? Thank you for your response.

  122. I am 41 yrs old and my husband was 45yrs old and passed away in Aug 2015. We have been separated for 4 years and I was not living with him so we were filing separate on our income tax. He filed head of household and our son lives with me so I filed separate and one dependent. Our house is only under my husbands name because they did not need my income therefore when we purchased it, it stayed solely under my husbands name. I am now living in the house with my son and continuing to pay the monthly payments. How should I file the income tax this year and in years to come and how will it affect me if my name is not on the note for the house. I have been receiving Social Security and his benefits will that also affect what I get back?

    1. Since your spouse died during the tax year 2015, you can use Married Filing Jointly as your filing status for that year, or you can file separate as you have been doing. For two years after that, 2016 and 2017, you will be eligible for the Qualifying Widow with Dependent Child filing status, if your son is a dependent child, and you have not remarried.


    1. If you begin collecting benefits before age 66, you will receive the largest benefit to which you are entitled. It sounds as though those are your widow’s benefits based on your deceased husband’s earnings history.

  124. my husband passed away at age 52 and i am only 48 years old and he left me a life insurance will the government in nj tax me?

    1. Death benefits from life insurance are not taxable income. If they included interest from the date of his death until the date the proceeds were paid, then that small interest portion will be taxable to you, and you will receive a 1099-INT form at the end of the year.

  125. My husband died in 2014. He owed money on credit cards in his name only. Our assets (house, vehicles, ) were owned in common so no estate. On legal advice informed credit cards of his death and no estate. Filed jointly on 2014 taxes. Received tax forms recently dated 2015 in his name saying he owed taxes on the money as income. I will be filing under my name only for 2015. What do I do about taxes on the unpaid debts?

    1. Since he was not alive in 2015 he cannot file a tax return. Any income received by a deceased person after his death is really income to the estate, so it is his estate that needs to file a tax return. But when the estate isn’t worth enough to pay off the tax bill, the tax collector has to settle for partial payment, or if there are no estate assets, no payment at all. Your tax adviser can assess your particular situation and advise you.

  126. My husband passed away at 57, in the Fall of 2015. Because of health issues, he was worried about our home being underwater and a burden on me if I had to go it alone, so the mortgage and deed to our home is in his name only. He was doing extensive renovation work at the time of his passing and it will be costly to have someone else finish all the work. I’ve been advise that purchasing the home wouldn’t be advantageous for me and I’d be better off walking away from it since it won’t effect me financially to do so.
    I’m 55 and disabled due to being hit by an impaired driver a few years ago. I draw SSD, SS Widow’s benefits and a small pension from my deceased husband, monthly it totals around two thousand. I have no debt and my credit score is decent.
    I have 150K from his life insurance, a small personal savings of around 20K, and I’m the beneficiary of my husbands 401K of around 140K that I have not collected as of yet. (I did move it short-term to a Money Market Fund with little risk of losing any substantial investment.)
    I would like to downsize to a small condo and pay cash.
    I’m also not sure what and who I really need to help with managing all the different aspects of my finances, i.e., Financial Advisor? Real Estate Agent vs Real Estate Attorney? Pay cash or take out a mortgage? Pull and use the 401K? (I know I’ll have to pay taxes on it.) Definitely I need a Tax Specialist for this filing 2015, but I’m lost with the rest of it and those professionals I have consulted all have different advise. I would prefer to not have a mortgage payment on a new place.

    1. Your tax professional can tell you what taxes you’d have to pay if you cashed in the 401(k), so you can see what you’d have left over after taxes. Then you can calculate whether the life insurance proceeds plus those funds would be enough to buy a condo for cash. If it is: Your next step is to determine what your monthly costs would be for the condo (property taxes, HOA fee, insurance, interior repairs and maintenance) plus your other living expenses so you can be sure that your monthly income after taxes is sufficient to be able to maintain the condo. If it is, and if what you are getting will continue on into the future indefinitely (and it sounds as though it will), then you will be able to live on those payments and won’t miss not having the cushion of the 401(k) money to draw on. And so you’ll be set for life, which is what you are after.

      But if at any of these points you find the finances don’t work, then you’ll have to reconsider your plan and adjust accordingly.

  127. My husband passed away in 2012. We have 2 boys under the age of 18. We all receive social security benefits. I work as a CNA in a small hospital. I recently returned to college. I would like to quit my job to concentrate on college. How would that affect my benefits? Would I continue to receive benefits?? It has become difficult to work, be a good Mom and attend college.

  128. My husband passed in 2009. He had no will nor insurance. The house mortgage is in his name but the deed is in both our names. We have one son who just turned 18. I am 41 an have been working three jobs to pay the bills. I loose my son ssi he receives from his father this year. I can not afford the mortgage payment with the little income I make but do not want to sell my home. What options if any can I do to keep my home.

    1. You can talk to the mortgage about doing a restructure of the loan to reduce the payments, if that might make the payments more affordable. But you may be better off selling the home and using the proceeds to get a home that is more affordable.

  129. My husband passed in 2013. We have a joint checking account with both our names, but he is the primary. Our mortgage is with that same bank, and though both our names are associated with the mortgage he is primary. Both our names are on the title of the house. I’d like to remove his name from the checking account and the mortgage, but a friend said the bank may make me go through probate and possibly pay off the mortgage. Is that true?

    1. We aren’t qualified to give legal advice, so you might want to consult an attorney about these issues. If they won’t take his name off the checking account, you could take the funds out and open an account in your name alone. Your state may provide for a simplified probate procedure you can go through to show that the house was inherited by you, and then you can get the title put into your name. If you won’t qualify for the mortgage, you may want to just leave it in both names, but ask an attorney what’s the best thing to do.

  130. Why are widows taxed as single after the death of a spouse? My husband passed away in 2013 and the last two years I’ve had to pay income tax. I have his pension, my pension and survivor benefits. I was hit last year for 8700 (I had an added income in 2014 that went away) but for 2015 I had the 2 pensions, survivor benefits and a part time job.

    Now, just because my spouse passed away doesn’t mean that my mortgage payment, car note, insurance, food, etc went away. This year I have to pay 4700+ (I did stay below the allowable for social security). Also, if I took Obama care for 2016, my cost was going to jump from $371/month to $518/month and I don’t have any preexisting conditions). Yeah right as if I can afford an extra 6800 annually and keep a roof over my head and eat!

    At 63, I can’t afford to take the extra % out to cover the tax and make ends meet each month. I do have some of my spouse life insurance to help with the cost, but this will put me in the hole.

    It’s a catch 22 and I’m sure I’m not the only widow going through this tax hell!

    Any advice?

    1. Taxes are definitely not fair, as your post shows. Widows who have dependent children at home can file using the joint tax rates for two years after their spouse’s death, but that benefit isn’t accorded widows without dependents still at home.

  131. I was widowed for the 2nd time in June, 2015. The first time I was young, had 4 children to raise. But this time (I just turned 65 in Feb, 2016), 18 years later, is worse. My 2nd husband, a widower, had an only child, a daughter, who would not accept that her dad could love anyone else but her. He had a will, a trust (which I did not know about), and we had a prenup (which I did not understand why). We were going to change everything when we got back from our cruise, especially because his daughter had been very disrespectful to both of us even before we married. But he did not get back; he died. We were married just 4 years. His daughter has made my life unbearable the past 9 months; well, really, the past 5 1/2 years. But she took all he brought into our marriage, as she could, via the prenup. It has cost me thousands of dollars to replace things, and that much and more to hire an attorney to deal with her and her attorney. I was left with only our house, which we bought together with the sale of both our homes. She even tried to get the house. It took a large moving van to take all the furniture and incidentals, down to the flatware, that she wanted. I had, and still have, no rights as the spouse.

    Now we are into tax time and I shudder to think what more she will try to do. She holds the trump card because she is the executrix. Most recently my attorney received a letter requesting documents so her accountant can do 2015 taxes. They want tax returns from 2013 & 2014 so they can file a return for the trust. My late husband did not file a separate return for the trust, although in their letter they state that a trust ‘has to have a separate return’. I have discovered a trust does not have to have a separate return filing. We filed a joint 1040 and all that information was included in that return.

    Then they ask if we filed jointly or separately for 2014, then state, ‘well, either way, the accountant needs a copy of the 2014 return’. Why? We had to pay taxes in 2014. But then they ask if I intend to file jointly for 2015 and, if so, they need a confirmation letter stating the fact.

    My question to you is this: if I file jointly, how do I get an amended 1099 from his brokerage firm? The 1099 is for the entire year but I should not have to claim dividends, gains, etc. for more than the date of his death. I do not have the 1099 since the daughter had all of his mail forwarded to herself as of 10/15. I have no rights, as the spouse, since I am not the executrix of his estate. What would be the benefit of married, filing separately virus filing jointly?

    I am trying to work with an attorney/cpa but, in my case, it is hard to get anyone to call me back. Please, I would welcome any suggestions. I am desperate to move beyond this that has become my life.

        1. Thanks for your reply. Only problem is, I am NOT the executrix and she, the daughter, will not release any of my late husband’s information to me so that I can file jointly, so my only resolve is to file married, filing separately. Catch 22.

  132. My Husband pass away an Month away , We was separated at the time, but still Married. he name his two kids as his beneficial. do I have any right to his investments( Stocks) or do that go to his kids as well?

  133. i am 68 yrs and drawing less than $1600. ss widows benefits before medicare deductibles. i moved my 401k and put it in annuities through my bank and kept less than 10,000. for emergencies. i am retired and not working due too a chronic illness. do i have to file. i live in texas

  134. I am 79 what widow benefits can I claim?
    I have a friend that was told she does not have to file income tax. She has a life ins. policy and does not take the interest to spend. she lets it roll over. she is 76 and says she does not have to let the govt. know how much social security she gets each year. She is also a widow.

  135. My husband died two months ago, I lived with him 13 years . I have three children the age10 – 8 – 7, I to got help from a security office just for the kids. But for md nothing, Do I have the right to get help in case I did not find work, and also my husband and I in Applied tax return together so how i can grt the tax return nex year Iwho I can get a loan for widows

    1. Talk to Social Security about what widow benefits you might be entitled to, since you are caring for his children. You can file a joint tax return for the year of his death, and since you have children at home you can use the joint tax rates for two years in the future. As for loans for widows, I don’t know of such a program.

  136. To update my question of 3/9/2016, I filed married, filing separately. My step-daughter would not give me my late husband’s 1099 or any other pertinent information, so I could not possibly file jointly. My new question is this: The CPA told me I could not claim but half of the real estate taxes I paid in 10/2015, which was $4000. What is the reason for this? If I paid them, why should the daughter be allowed to claim half of them on his 2015 return?

    1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

      Ask the CPA why he told you that. If you paid the tax, then you should be able to claim the deduction. It was paid by you after his death, so he can’t claim it, unless in some way his estate paid it and not you. That doesn’t seem to be what you think happened, and you were there, the CPA wasn’t.

      1. Thank you, Ginita. The CPA said because both our names were on the deed at the time of his death, I could only claim half, and also because my income was negative on the return, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I paid the property taxes after his death; he died in 6/2015, I paid the taxes in 10/2015. The estate did not pay the taxes.

        Whether or not it mattered on the return, it’s really the principle of the matter. The step-daughter did not pay them and she should not be able to claim them on his final return. After all, if there is a refund on his return, she is the one who will be getting it, not me.

        I appreciate your help. It’s definitely a strange situation I find myself in.

  137. My husband passed away on March 24, 2016. He was a 100% disabled veteran and because of this we paid no taxes on our mortgage. The mortgage is in both of our names and is a VA backed home loan. I am qualified, and already receiving, benefits from the VA because of his disability status. My question is this – Will I now have to pay taxes on our mortgage? Do I qualify as tax exempt? If not, will I have to reapply for a mortgage or will they base it on the current one? I don’t want to wait long in case I do have to pay taxes.

    Thank you!

    1. I don’t know what taxes you’d have to pay on a mortgage. Indeed, it is the other way around – your mortgage payments are tax deductible. As to whether you need to reapply, that is beyond anything that I know.

  138. Hi, Ginita.
    My husband passed away Jan., 2013. I received an inheritance of less than $80k from his retirement mutual fund account. Isn’t there a tax-free, widow benefit? and if so, how can those funds be handled to keep them in the tax-free category?
    Thank you.

    1. Inherited retirement funds are not taxable income as long as they stay in a retirement fund. When you withdraw funds from the retirement account, you will pay tax on your withdrawals in the year withdrawn.

      1. Is there any point/ age when you can take disbursements or money out; when it would not add to your taxable income?
        Is there any tax credit or break if you took money out – solely to fix up a fixer-upper, to have a place to live? (and that being the only domicile a person could afford).
        Thank you, Genita.

  139. I’m low income, work only part-time and need that inheritance for life emergencies that may come. I’m now 65 and that’s my only back-up.

  140. My husband was disabled and received workers compensation while he was alive, but took a lesser amount so it would carry on to me when he passed away. Well he has passed and I recieve widows compensation from workers comp. Since then I have become disabled and have applied for social security. My question is if I am approved for social security will they offset it because of my widows benifits, which has nothing to do with my disability? I haven’t been able to find any information on this subject hope you can help. Thanks

  141. kerry carelli Setters

    My husband was 66 and died in March…I’m in naples fla and trying to get his annuity in California..he left it there for me and never touched it…my # is 2392340935…any suggestions? I’m also having a hard time getting his ss he had filed two months before he passed in my arms…and Im disabled waiting on an appeal…could take another 12 months…I have no income and need help..actually just wrote a letter to the president…this is ludicrous…he took care if me and i can hardly walk…it I could be fixed I would love to go back to work….plzzzzzz help me…I feel like I’m slowly dying…thanks…kerryann

    1. Contact the insurance company that issued the annuity, tell them you think you were beneficiary on his policy (give his name and social security number), and give them your contact information. If you were the beneficiary, they will follow through.

  142. I’m 56 years old My wife passed away in 2014. I plan on retiring at 61 with my widows benefit. I under stand I can then switch to my SS benefit at the highest rate at age 67 or 70? Is this correct?

    Second question…I had my house appraised after my wife’s death on the advice of my attorney (he handled my Trust matters). How does this “step up basis” work when I decide to sell our home? I have roughly $700k in equity.



    1. At 61, you will be able to receive the widow’s benefit, reduced because you began collecting under age 66. Once you are 62, you will be automatically switched over to your own benefit at any time that it exceeds the widow’s benefit. That is under the new laws enacted last October.

      When you sell your home, you will have a gain to the extent that the sales price minus costs of sale exceed the value when your wife died. Remember also that you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain on the sale of a principal residence, so you won’t have to pay tax on the gain unless it exceeds that amount.

      1. “Automatically”? I read that as meaning I cannot wait until my late 60s to receive the highest benefit by my own SS benefit? This makes the widow’s benefit essentially worthless- our income was equal over the last five years of our marriage- does it not?

        My plan also included a pension benefit and drawing from my IRA/401 (k) funds. Will that further reduce my SS?

        1. Since social security benefits are based on your highest 35 years of covered earnings, I cannot say whether the two benefits are equal even though your earnings were equal for the past five years. You will receive the highest amount that you can receive. If your pension is from a job where you also paid into social security, your pension will not reduce what you receive from social security

  143. My father passed away June, 18 2016 at the age of 69 and I’m helping my mother who is 72 to get everything straight, she was drawing her (SSN). My father worked at General Motors for 30 years and was getting a pension. I know that my mother is going to be getting my fathers social security and half of his pension (just because of how he had selected the pension from GM) There were 3 categories to pick from and he took the (half pay) not the one for full pay. Any ways my question is I have to fill out a W-4 form for my mother and I’m not really sure what to put her down for. (Single, zero) or Single and 1) or is she expect from withholding? Thanks for you help in advance.

    1. If her income exceeds $11,850 for the year, then she will need to file an income tax return and is not exempt from taxes. She can probably claim S-1 and not end up owing taxes at the end of the year.

      1. Her income will be more than that and yes my parent did file income tax and always got everything back. I guess I was just trying to make sure that she did not have to much taken out, but yet still had enough to live on during the month without having to pay once she filed. One more question, I think I read that she will not have to pay taxes on the life insurance policy that my dad has, is that correct or am I just hoping? Thanks for your answer that has helped a lot.

        1. Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP

          The death benefits paid from life insurance policies are not taxable. But if the insurance company paid some interest along with the benefits, the interest is taxable. It isn’t likely to be a very large amount.

  144. My husband died in March 2003 and I was collecting SSI for me and kids. It ended when they became 17. I am now 56 and unemployed, can I filed for his social security?

  145. My Husband , died 2010 he had been employed by the state of Ca. He was injured while at work in a state van. The state was paying him compinsation for a while, but he was unable to go back to work because of
    his injury. So the settlement the state made he was drawing a monthly ck. Of $1000. A month , he died a few
    years later. So the state pays me that check now. I am 88yrs. Old. My Question is do I have to pay income tax on that money I receive monthly, or not. I do not own any property at present.

  146. I was married 30 years to ex. Had two sons by him, 37 and 39. He remarried and was married to wife 2 for 13 years. He passed away recently and she informed my sons that they were not even mentioned in his will, which I and all of his other relatives find very hard to believe. She claims he left EVERYTHING in his estate to her ONLY, including what was in his will, IRA, insurance policy, etc. Being very suspicious of this woman’s motoves, is there any way my sons can get a copy of his will or access to his financial documents to verify what she is saying is true. I’m heartbroken that my sons (who I know he loved with all his heart) are being left out. Don’t know for sure if he had a life insurance policy or not but i do know he had at least 200,000 in an IRA, part of which my one son could benefit from greatly as he is currently disabled and unemployed. He died after a years battle with cancer. She claims any money left over went to paying medical bills and funeral. He had Medicare which should have paid his medical bills. Is there any way we can legally look into this?

    1. His will is not relevant to the distribution of funds in his IRA or insurance death benefits, since those pass in accordance with his beneficiary designation. So if he designated his wife as beneficiary, she will receive the money. If he had other valuable property, then his will would cover that. You can check with the probate court to see if a copy of his will has been filed with them, and if you can see that document.

  147. My husband died in 2006 which left me with only one income. I was only 50 at the time. I have now turned 60 years old and have applied for and approved to start receiving his s/s. I can only get it a few months a year as I am still working. My question is, will I have to pay taxes on this extra income or is it already taxed?

    1. Since your benefits will be forever reduced if you begin collecting before age 66, and in addition it is reduced because you are still working, you may be making a mistake by taking it now while you are working. But to answer your question, some or all of it is taxable income, depending on the rest of your income.

  148. Hi, I am collecting early widow benefits from ss from my deceased husband. I am 63 years old.
    Last year my mom passed away and I was the Trustee of her Irrevocable Trust. Her Lawyer paid me a lump sum payment of 33,000.00 as a Trustee Fee for everything I had to do to manage her estate. That generated a 1099. Do I need to report that as income to ss and will they stop and/or reduce my benefits as a result for that year? Do not know and cannot find anything online about Trustee Fees. Thank you.

    1. IRS Publication 559 says: All personal representatives must include fees paid to them from an estate in their gross income. If you are not in the trade or business of being an executor (for instance, you are the executor of a friend’s or relative’s estate), report these fees on your Form 1040, line 21. So the trustee fee is miscellaneous income that you need to report on your tax return, but it won’t reduce your social security since it isn’t earned income.

  149. My husband passed away on August 10, 2016. I live in Texas and know that some laws differ from state to state. I own my home as of a few months ago. My husband had several credit cards in his name that I didn’t know about. They are all now sending me letters of collection. There was no estate left other than the house and a very small life insurance policy.
    I do not have the money to pay these debts, can they take my house over these debts? It is all that I have left that we shared.

    1. It sounds as though there was an estate consisting of the house. Consult with an estate attorney to see whether there is any exemption in your state for the house being the only asset. If there is, then the creditors won’t have any estate to collect from. If it is not exempt, then you will have to work something out with the creditors since you received the estate asset.

      1. My husband passed away August 2015 age 53. Im almost 59. Married 9yrs 10 months. We moved into our new home July 2015. I received his life insurance, 401k. Put in bank. Living on insurance money due to mental weakness through my grieving process. I have no job. I was a stay at home wife 5 yrs before he passed. I’m receiving mortgage statement saying ” The Estate Of” with my deceased husbands name and mine. Can I claim house for 2016 even with no job? I reported his death to credit card companies with ” no estate.” My name was not on any of them. They all told me no death cert needed but I sent them each one anyway. If I sell my home can creditors come after any money awarded over the amount owed? I did report death to SS and received a one time check of $200 last year. Your advise will be greatly appreciated.


        1. By “claiming the house” are you meaning deducting the taxes and mortgage interest on your tax return? Yes, if you make the payments you can claim those deductions. If you sell the home, they could come after his share since there was an estate (the house).

  150. I have been a widow since 1988 at the age of 27. I am now 57 y/0. Am I eligible to receive any ss benefits at this time? My husband was only 31 when passed, how does that affect my pending benefits as I want to retire at 60 y/o.

  151. My Husband died oct 15 2015 at the age of 53 from cancer . I drawl widow pay from Va each month he was in the milatary . For the 1st year I could only drawl haft pay $410 a month do I have to file income taxes this it is my only income. Thanks

  152. Hello, my husband passed a way overseas on Dec of 2015 unexpectedly. We had a business in US and overseas. We have a house in US and overseas and cars. I found out that the businesses were not under my name. Our house in US is not under my name. Although he wrote a Will and had a notarized with a public notary with his signature and the notary public’s signature only. On the Will he left everything to me excluding the businesses. The reason was the Will was created in 2008. The clerk of the circuit court told me the Will is not acceptable by courts because it needs more signatures. Therefore, I should pursue without a Will. I also do not know if he had a life insurance. I don’t work because I was working with my husband on his business. He was paying for all the expenses including our mortgage. Since his death, I lost everything we had overseas including the money, cars, house, and all the items in the house. My father in law took everything. I am left with his IRA which I was the beneficiary and a big mortgage. I have been borrowing money from family members to pay my mortgage and pay my expenses. I can not even sell the house until I become the personal representative of my own house. Once this is done and the house is sold, half of the mount left will go to my father in law. I don’t think this is fair and what century are we living in. I don’t know how to deal with this and how I can fight this. I also like to please if there are any type of insurance that covers my mortgage at least . How can find out if he had any life insurance or any type of insurance that will help me in long run. Can I get his social security benefits? I really can use some advice. Thank you very much.

    1. To look for life insurance, check with your state’s insurance department, as well as their unclaimed property office. You can find the required contact info for your state’s insurance department at the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s website. You can also search for unclaimed property (which includes life insurance claims) in any state on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrator’s website. The mortgage company may be able tell you whether any mortgage insurance was purchased if it was bought through them. And when you are age 60 you can begin collecting reduced social security widow’s retirement benefits.

  153. angela baczynski

    I lost my husband this past March 23rd. I have never filled out taxes, and I know there are stipulations that are allowed for widows. I have no dependent children at home,(all 4 are grown and out on their own) but I am only 57. we were married for f36 years He always told me what to claim on my w-4, but now I am not sure, and I need to know soon. I am trying to have the least taken out of my check in order to be able to pay my bills every month as we know, I can’t collect anything until I am 60, however, I do not want to have to pay a giant sum at the end of the year.
    also, I thought I heard the lady at the ss office say that I was only allowed to make 1500.00 a month when I do collect it, and then ii would only receive 1/2 of what he was getting. that cannot be right can it

    1. For 2017 you will be claiming yourself on your income tax return, so fill out the W-4 indicating that on the first line. You may claim another exemption on the second line of your W-4 if you have only one job. When you reach age 60, you can begin collecting widows benefits, if you have not remarried. Widow’s benefits are equal to 100% of what he could have collected, but they will be reduced since you are collecting before full retirement age. And if you earn more than a certain amount ($16,920 in 2017) they will be reduced further by $1 for each $2 you earn over that amount.

  154. Brenda L Glasmann

    I (58 yrs old) was married June 6, 2016 and my husband (68 yrs) died Sept 7, 2016. I have been told I am not able to get widow’s benefits as we were not married 10 years, and he died with no will. His grown children took the motorhome in his name selling it to pay funeral and an elbereth memorial. He asked them to sell it for double the amount and give me the proceeds to live on until I got work as I have not worked the last 2 ears. I just got a job in November at $10.00 an hour 28 hours a week. He was on Social Security and was a CPA and I became homeless as there was no assets. There was no house we lived in an apartment I lost Will I need to file and pay his taxes for last year? And he had a loan I just found out about no bills are credit cards were ever with my name. An I responsible for his debts and taxes? I have no idea how any of this works nor who to talk to.

    1. If you inherited any assets, you may be responsible for his debts. Check with an estate attorney to find out how it works in your state. I am surprised you were told you can’t get social security widow benefits, once you turn age 60 (for reduced benefits) or age 66 (for full benefits). Talk to them again.

  155. Carma Lita Elliott

    Hi I have been getting an annuity since 2011 I have a minor child I have not paid any taxes this year I got a job that takes out taxes what is the amount you can make before taxes apply to my annuity and with my combined wages what would that among be hope you can help me

  156. My husband died September 2015. I filed jointly for 2015. In 2016, I received his bonus. The company is asking for the EIN number for the 1099 for his “Estate”. That would me my SS#, correct? Or does this bonus allow me to file once more as a couple for 2016 taxes?

    1. If his estate was fairly simple and did not go through probate, or if the estate is now closed and the assets distributed, then you should provide your social security number. He cannot file jointly with you for 2016 since he was not alive during that year. You can use the married filing jointly tax rates for two years after the year of his death if you have a minor child at home.

  157. My husband passed away last year 2016 and his pension stopped but I was awarded a real small amount I did not expect to get. I rolled it over to a traditional IRA. I know I’ll need to do a distribution before April 2017. We hadn’t filed income taxes for a long time as our SSA benefits and his pension were under the required amount to file taxes. My question is now that I got this small distribution and rolled it over, do I need to file taxes for 2016? Or only for 2017 because of the distribution I will need to take out?

  158. My husband is 73 and started taking his SS early. He has terminal lung disease. I turned 62 last September and we decided I should start collecting my SS as it isn’t very much until he passed. The SS office had me bring in a copy of our marriage license and told me that since I am a wife I get $2. a month more than just my own. Now I am worried that I was mislead by SS. Will I be able to switch to his SS when he passes? Will I collect what he collects now? Any help is appreciated

    1. When your husband dies, you will become eligible for widow benefits. Those benefits are based on his earnings record, and will probably be reduced somewhat because you began collecting benefits early. So they will approximate what he is getting, unless your own benefits are higher, in which case you’ll get your own benefits. From what you say, I don’t think that’s the case.

  159. My husband died after 4 months and 1 day of marriage. We lived together for 8 years then married. He died suddenly by accidental overdose of pain pills and the autopsy report stated that and that his heart was bad. He was only 58. I read on SS website that I am not entitled to any benefits at age 60 or otherwise as you have to married for 9 months. Are there exceptions to this? I am 57 and we have no children.
    Thank you

    1. Yes, there is an exception to the rule for situations such as yours. Some of the exceptions include the worker’s death was accidental or the worker’s death occurred in the line of duty as an actively serving member of a uniformed service.

  160. I have a question:

    My husband passed away suddenly at age 48. I’m 60 right now and employed full-time, so am not eligible to apply for social security benefits as his widow.

    At what point (assuming I remain employed) can I apply for widow’s benefits, or do I actually need to retire?

    Thank you…

    1. Your benefits are reduced since you are working, and so there is no point to applying now, since it sounds as though they will be completely offset. Once you are of full retirement age, 66+, that rule no longer applies. If you stop working sooner, you can apply sooner, though your benefits would be reduced because you didn’t wait until full retirement age to begin collecting.

      1. I wasn’t planning to quit working until at least age 66+ anyway, but in today’s corporate world, jobs aren’t promised anymore than life is … my thought is to apply for benefits through his social security whenever I apply, and then go back to my own at 70 to get the full benefit, is that logical?

        Thank you for the quick reply

  161. My husband passed away suddenly in April 2016. It was a tremendous shock emotionally but also financially. I realize that I can file my 2016 tax return as a widow but because we did not have any children, I know that I have to file as single for the 2017 tax year and beyond. There is a financial hardship that sometimes comes from becoming a widow and now you must also start paying taxes at a much higher rate than when you were married. Do you think that there is a possibility to get the tax laws changed to add another category whereby widow(ers) can file? The taxes won’t be as costly as filing single but more than the taxes due from the married filing jointly category and of course…only allowed until remarriage occurs. This would reduce the amounts deducted from each paycheck affording those of us who unfortunately qualify because we lose our spouse to have a little more income for the monthly budget. Please tell me your thoughts on this. Thanks.

    1. If you are widowed and don’t have children at home, then you don’t get a special rate such as head of household which you’d get if you had children at home. From what I’ve read, Mr. Trump proposes doing away with head of household beneficial rates and have everyone pay at the same rate.

  162. I heard there is a $5000 widows pension from a friend. She filed for it on her annual IRS taxes.
    Ever heard of it?

    I was widowed in 2003 and remarried in 2012.

  163. Barbara DuBois

    My husband passed away in 2008 at the age of 77. I have been having $100 Federal Income Tax deducted from his pension check every month. I have been using G as the code. He did serve in the Korean war. Am I filing correctly?

  164. Hello my name is Rachel, my husband died in 2015, we had been together since 2005 at the age of 23 we married in 2013- and he died in 2015 August 23rd, he was prescribed pain medication and took another medication that had a bad side effect. I have nothing, and I received nothing. In 2016 I started working with labor ready and filed my taxes for the first time. But since I never got to change my social security card to the last name Steffy but now that I am widowed I don’t want to have to change my social security card from my maiden name. But I need my taxes and I also need the tax break for widows, I was a house wife for 10 years plus I would love to do something with my life but from the time I was a teenager till 32 I was a housewife, even if you could please help me to get my taxes from work I would greatly appreciate it.

  165. Sherry Powell

    My husband died June 2016. I filed jointly and had refunds coming back. I received the State refund and it was made out to the Estate of my husband and my name. We don’t have an estate, so I don’t have an estate bank account. Now no bank will deposit my check. And I bet the federal government check will be the same. Do I have to establish an estate bank account somewhere, then go to court to establish myself as executor of his estate (when there is no estate?)

  166. my mother received a notice from Pa dept. of revenue for a tax amnesty program. They are saying taxes are owed for the years 1984,1985 and 1986, my father passed in 2011 so don’t know what these are for. Can they go back that far and why wasn’t she contacted before this has been 35 years, she is very ill with cancer and so upset, can you help

  167. Leslie Dalton

    My husband died in 2003 at the age of 45. Although he has been gone nearly 14 years I believe he still made more than I have in my life. I need to know if I can get survivor benifits when I turn 60 this coming January and if so, when should I start the application process. I am working but make nearly no money, about 500.00 a month.