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.

498 thoughts on “Tax Break For Widows”

  1. Hello,
    My husband passed away suddenly, September, 2001. He was 42 at the time and I was 40.
    Flash forward twenty-one years, I am now 60 and getting letters from SS and his previous employer regarding benefits.
    I still work full time, and make approximately $80,000.00 per year.
    Here are my questions:
    1. He had a small-ish pension plan from the company he worked for when he passed. The total as of April 1st is around 60,000.00. If I cash out in a lump sum, is it taxable?
    2. He had an extremely good job and was making over $100,000.00/year when he passed. SS sent me a letter saying I could get spousal benefits while I work. Is that true? I have tried to call, and well…you know how that goes.
    Thank you!

    1. You are eligible for widow benefits beginning at age 60. They are the equivalent of 100% of what he would have received if he had lived. But wait, there are a few catches:
      If you begin collecting benefits before full retirement age of 67, they will reduce the benefits you get. For example, if you took the benefits now, you’d get only 71% of what you’d get if you waiting ’til age 67.
      If you are under full retirement age 67, the amount you receive will be reduced if you are working. If your earnings from working exceed $19,560, your benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over that. So for you, earning $80K, your benefit will be reduced about $30,000, which is $2,500 a month. It’s likely your widow benefit isn’t even that much, so you’d get 0.
      So it makes sense to wait until your full retirement age to collect benefits, if you continue to work. And I believe that at that time you could either take the greater of your own benefit or the widow benefit, or if it makes sense, elect to take the widow benefit and let your own benefit continue to grow until age 70, and then switch over to that benefit then (if it exceeds your own benefit). You don’t get both benefits, it’s either your benefit or widow benefit that you get.

      As for the pension he earned, whatever you get, in a lump sum or monthly payments or whatever, will be fully taxed to you as income.

  2. my husband & I bought a home in Florida and he died of Covid 5 months later. We owned a home in Dallas,Tx , which was already paid off, so we decided to file homestead exemption on the newly aquired Florida home at the time we purchased it. Here lies my problem…I want to sell the Dallas home which is in my husband’s name, although we were married to each other when we purchased it. Our only son lives in Ohio and is 30 yrs old. There is an old handwritten will somewhere in the Dallas house that we never had recorded in the county courthouse. So that means he actually died without a will. Since Texas is a community property state, will I be able to sell the house in Dallas? There were no other spouses or children for either of us. We bought it for $75K back in 1984 and my son says I should easily get $350K for it now. I’m worried that the capital gains taxes will eat up most of my profit though. Is there a way that I won’t have to pay so much? I receive $2100.00 a month in retirement and SS.

    1. If the Dallas home was in your husband’s name, then it received an increase in “tax basis” to it’s value at the date of his death. So when you sell it, there should be little or no capital gains.

      As for how to get the home into your name so you can sell it, you’ll need to find out what the laws of Texas say about what happens when someone dies without a will.

  3. My Aunt is thinking about selling her 2 family house which is currently valued at $1,060,000. She lives in Queens, NY.
    She and her husband purchased their house for $40,000 in 1968 as their primary residence with a relative on the 2nd floor. They charged rent at a very low amount because the relative had low income. Later their adult daughter rented the 2nd floor for a small monthly amount and still lives there. My Aunt has lived on the 2nd floor since the 1968 purchase but needs to downsize.
    My Aunt’s husband died in 2010. She is a widow and never remarried. She receives approximately $1700 per month in income from social security and her husband’s insurance plan combined.
    If she sells her house, what would she have to pay in capital gains? I realize you cannot pinpoint the amount due to many variables, but how would the capital gains amount be determined? Does she pay to both the IRS and New York State/New York City? Thank you for your response.

    1. The gain is determined by taking the sales price, subtracting the cost of sale, and subtracting the tax basis. The tax basis will be determined for her husband’s half by the value at the date of his death and for her half by what she originally paid for it plus the cost of improvements. If she depreciated part of the home as a rental, that depreciation claimed since 1997 would be recaptured and would be taxable when the property was sold. And it is likely that she can exclude $250,000 of the gain because it was her principal residence. Most states also tax capital gains, and the municipality may tax it as well. She really should consult a tax professional who can help her figure all of this out.

  4. I had a joint brokerage account with my husband who recently died. What happens to our carryover capital losses? Thank you.

  5. My husband died recently and unfortunately we had not filed taxes since 2015. I am filing this week with a local CPA and are working with a law firm to help with back taxes penalties. He also had several thousand dollars in debt in credit card bills where he was the account owner. He did have a large life insurance policy which will flow to an Irrevocable Trust where I am POA and beneficiary. I will be using money from the Life Insurance to pay what is owed (if possible) from the Life Insurance.

    Given the tax situation, will I be able to draw his SS? Can his creditors come at me or the Irr. Trust for the money owed on his credit cards?


    1. At age 60 you can draw social security benefits on his earnings record, if those benefits exceed your own benefits on your own record. If you begin drawing before full retirement age of 66+, your benefits will be reduced because you began drawing them early.

      It is my understanding that if he had assets, the credit card companies can ask to be paid from those assets. But check with your attorney to find out exactly how that would work in your situation.

  6. My husband passed away June 2018. I am working on taxes. He had an IRA with an insurance co.
    I did not get the disbursement. I had no one helping me at the time and I did not know that I was
    Suppose to fill out a form and take the beneficiary disbursement. I understood them to say that I had a year to take care of this. However, I am now transferring this to join my IRAS and the company
    Is sending me the disbursement. I will file it this year on my taxes. Can I ask for a reasonable Cause
    Excuse for any penalties. How do I explain this to them in order to be excused of penalties.
    Thank you

    1. If you are receiving the payment in 2019, it will be reported on that year’s taxes. Be sure to make estimated tax payment once you’ve received it so you don’t get penalized for 2019 for failure to pay your taxes during the year. If you received the payment in 2018, then you may have estimated tax penalties for failure to pay during the year, but it won’t be much.

  7. Hello Ginita,

    I lost my husband Jan 6, 2018, he was 57. He was a school teacher. I took a lump sum from his distribution. When he died I was 59 1/2 because my birthday is April 29, 1958 and they still took a big chunk for taxes. I believe it was 38,000. I was scared and wanted to make sure I could live in same house with my college sons not working. My sons are 25 and 23. My tax person accidentally filed my oldest son on our joint tax 2018 and his tax. I got a letter saying I owe 1400 back. My oldest son only got 400 dollars. So the tax person had me say I would pay 100 a month. I put the left over 30k in CD’s since I know nothing but this stuff. With the new tax laws I am not sure what to do next. I am 60 and have future investment in SS and TRS (teacher retirement and work as a school nurse). I think I file jointly again this year. Any tips would be appreciated. Oh, yes I owe 97k on my home and bring home 4k a month.

  8. H&R block told me last year I didn’t Have to file. I get 1673.00social security. I get 190.00a month formUlas And I get660.00 from black lung do I have To file??and why didn’t I have to last year I was 66yrs old

  9. Jennifer O'Gavaghan

    My Veteran husband qualified for a Dependent Income Compensation (DIC.) Upon his death in 2010,
    I received a Widow’s Benefit as a result. Now I am wondering if I can deposit it into my own Roth IRA.
    I am retired, so I no longer earn income. Some Veteran articles consider my benefit earned income making me believe I can contribute it to my Roth IRA while others are not clear about whether I can or can not.
    I would like to do this if qualified. Where do you suggest I find an answer to my question.
    I am so glad that I came upon your site!
    Thank you so much!

    1. I don’t find any source that says your widow benefits are earned income on which you can base IRA contributions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put the money into qualify investments or mutual funds that will grow for the future. It just means that you’ll have to pay tax on the income from those investments.

  10. My husband died less than a month ago at age 67. I am 62 and have been fully disabled with Multiple Sclerosis for decades. Railroad retirement said I might get $1500- $1600/month starting in 14 days.. They took his payment back and left me $500 because of disability they pay ($100 due to a big mess, so that’s what I get per month), plus they let me keep $450 this month I get for taking his retirement in March at age 62. Medicaid says I cannot have help to take care of me, as I will make a little more than $12,000 a year. I have credit card bills, medical bills, pay $515/month on my home, pay $1300 annually in flood insurance (although we live in the mountains where is snows, not ever floods), and other bills. Am I going to die laying here unable to cook and care for myself in any way? I can’t even walk.

  11. Hello, I recently lost my husband on July 23, 2018. We are both retired police officers with the city of Chicago. It is my understanding that as employees of this profession, we are under the windfall social security rule, but what I DON’T understand is what happens to ALL of the social security that was taken out of the years he or I worked during the course of our lives BEFORE we each became law enforcement? He had completed all of the work quarters necessary for social security and myself I believe last I checked would’ve needed about 3 years of my own to have my own quarters credit. But, as retired police they do not award us the social security as they do other working industries. He was 65, I am 57, soon to be 58. We were also paying down a $10K debt penalized against us after I retired in 2016. I understand that I still must pay his portion of that debt. What are my options to collect ANY social security as a surviving spouse if possible? He is also a military veteran, and we have four children together, two live at home with me still, one is 21 and attending university and other is 26 requiring mental health therapy, soon to be aged out of my insurance coverage for him from my employer. Please advise me, for I am a huge, confused, sad mess. My BEST friend of 42 years has left me behind…….

    1. Contact Social Security Administration and ask them to figure the social security you are eligible for as a widow and on your own earning history, to see which is greater. You can collect reduced social security retirement benefits as early as age 60, or wait until full retirement age of 66+ to collect full benefits. Since your years working under the social security system were limited, your payments are likely to be small, so you may want to wait until 66 if you can. I’m guessing that any benefits based on his earnings history will be fully offset by the pension offset rules that you refer to. But there may be benefis available to you from your own earnings history.

  12. my husband died in 2017 and in 2018 as a widow I was told by an accountant that I had to pay $1,000.00 in income tax. She told me that there was nothing she could do to help me. I am 70 years old and cannot
    afford to pay this kind of tax. I have a home and I have to pay property tax and school taxes and so on. I live on social security and pension from my husband. Before his death, I collected social security on my own work history. It was not much but it helped. But they took that away. I worked for that money why
    should it have been taken away from me? The accountant said that next year the income tax would be
    $3,000.00. What does the government expect me to live on? This is ridiculous. I need some help. Thanks

    1. You owe tax on your income less certain deductions. The current standard deduction for single people is $12,000, plus an additional $1,600 for being over 65, and in general you owe tax on your income that exceeds that amount. Social security income is not fully taxable at certain income levels, so you may receive additional tax breaks for that type of income. The government recognizes that you worked for your income, as most people do, and it expects you to pay the taxes that are due and to live on the rest.

  13. Was not able to receive my husbands pension from his job, however, I received a widows pension of $600 a month.. Do I have to pay taxes on such a small amount?

  14. My husband died at age 60 four years ago. He had a pension plan with his company and I am being paid a set amount each month from the plan as I continue to work at my full time job. The tax form I received from the pension plan identified this as a death benefit for the first two years (I paid income taxes for the payments). The pension plan changed the administrators for the plan and the new administrators identify it as a pension benefit instead of a death benefit. I asked for a corrected copy the first year and I received a new one identifying it as a death benefit. This year they have it back as a pension benefit instead of a death benefit. Does it matter how it is identified since I am paying taxes on it anyway?

    1. No it doesn’t matter. It is a pension payment that you receive due to his death, so both labels apply. And whichever it is classified as, it is taxed as ordinary income, so how they classify it won’t make a bit of difference tax-wise.

  15. A friend was married to her husband who had an apartment complex that he had in his corporation. He died December 25, 2016 and his wife inherited the corporation. On April 20, 2017 the apartment complex was sold for 2,700,000.00. My friend is trying to figure out how this is going to affect her 2017 taxes.

    1. It is probable that the complex received a stepped-up tax basis to the value at the date of his death, so there should not be much gain between them and the date of sale, if any. She ca check with the estate attorney to see if it received a stepped up tax basis, and how much that was (generally appraised value at the date of his death).

  16. My Husband passed away in November of 2016. Am I entitled to a tax break for becoming a widow. I will be 65 in August and am drawing his Social Security since it was higher than mine. Also. I have a pension from the company where I retired. Other than that the only other income I have is 40 acres of farm land that I lease out. Thank you for your assistance.

  17. Hello.
    My husband pasted Oct 2016. My question is he was sole provider. I since have invested the life ins. and getting ready to file taxes again. I did receive his last bonus. 20,000. I and his son (10) earn survivor spouse income . 24,000 a year. How do I have to tax his bonus. Plus I have been reading comments before and was wondering to max the earnings from his social sec. I’m 53. so when child is older and cant receive benefits any longer should I then switch the survivor benefit to my own social sec. and leave his alone till I’m 65? to get full 100 percent .? thanks for any help.

  18. Claudette Maitland

    I am asking for my sister. Her husband does not pay taxes on their house because he is a Vietnam veteran 100 % disable. If he should pass, does my sister have to pay taxes on the house?

  19. Hello, my husband and I came to United States Florida with my daughter 10 years ago. My husband worked and payed for taxes for eight years. He passed away in 2016. I will be 55 years old this year in May. after he passed away, the Social security office told me I wouldnt be able to get his pension because I was not 55 years old at the time. However, now that I am turning 55 years old, will I be able to get his benefits? My daughter is 22 years old. She is a full time student and she is my dependent. any information will be greatly appreciated.

    1. I don’t know what benefit would begin at age 55, but you can contact social Security to find out. A widow can collect reduced benefits called widow benefits from her spouse’s earnings record at age 60. But if you husband was covered under Social Security for just 8 years, he may not have earned the requisite 40 quarters of coverage to be eligible for social security.

  20. My dear spouse died 6/11/2017, we have no children, I’m disabled and rec my own soc sec benefits, I receive a widow pension AS OF july 17, at 71*/2 % I’m 59 yrs Once I turn 66 will I be able to receive his additional soc sec benefits,(see my beloved was disabled as well. I also receive his pension from his union, I’m confused I know I can file this year only married jointly with him. since we have no children. the pension does not take taxes out should I fill our a W-4 form claim myself as single since it is 2018 or should I wait until after April 15, 2018 the end of the tax year .the pension check is 1475.00 monthly, they also sent me a 1099 form to report the $13094.70 lump sum pension annuity they send calling it life insurance on the form they coded box 7 as a 4 Distribution They put the gross distribution in box 1, however nothing in box 2a, then in box 2b it says TAXABLE AMOUNT NOT DETERMINE,Very confusing situation, it does not go well with a grieving mind, Thank you advance for you assistance. Blessings I send your way!!

    1. You will file a joint return with him for 2017, claiming your income and his up to the date of his death. If you don’t want to owe taxes (and possibly an underpayment penalty) on April 15 of next year, then do fill out a W-4 form so taxes are taken out of the pension as you go. Life insurance proceeds are generally not taxable, but check with the payee to see if they can confirm this.

      Once you are 60 years old you can receive reduced widow benefits. Make sure social security knows that you are a widow so they can pay you the highest benefit to which you are entitled.

  21. Margaret Fairchild

    My husband recently passed in October of last year Ihave his social security and pension taken care of but was wondering what to do about the accounts that were in his name not mine. On upon his death my income was reduced by almost 900 a month. Now living on less than 1800 a month including ss and pension. How do I handle those accounts there was no estate to file. I have contact one sent me letter about payment what do I do sned it back say no estate also can they attach ss benefits? There is about 7000dollars of accounts in his name

    1. Ask the institution where the account is what paperwork you have to file if you are the beneficiary and executor of an estate that was too small to require probate. As I recall, it is usually a form you fill out and get notarized plus a copy of the death certificate.

  22. My husband passed away suddenly at 53. I am the beneficiary on his 401k and I am 55 years old. If I take his 401k payout in either one lump sum or monthly payments, I know I will need to pay federal and state taxes, but will I have to pat the 10% penalty. Thank you!

  23. John W.Lampkins Jr.

    When my wife passed away in June of 2014 I was raised up in my social security payments to her level which was approximately double what I was getting before. I am now getting ,what amounted to in 2017 16,992.00,I have no other income of any kind,and no real debts to speak of except a very small water and electricity bills at the property that she left me entirely that I have still not put through probate,even though I have completely paid off three entire years of back taxes that were overdue when she passed away. We,that is my wife and I had been living with my step-daughter and son-in law because of my wife’s bad health,and was being claimed on their tax return. We never had to pay any thing to them before. Apparently she is not claiming me on her taxes for 2017. My question is this,—–Do I have taxes that I am going to have to pay for the 16,992.00 I received from social security during 2017,and if so how much. I had always heard that if you were below a certain level you didn’t owe any,but never knew what the facts were. I turned 70 last August 14th.

  24. My husband passed June 2017. He was retired and drawing his pension and his SSA. I am a Fed Govt employee. and continue to work with a decent salary. I was going to wait until I retired from the Fed Govt under CSRS and turned 67 to draw his SS benefit since I am not eligible under SSA for my own (have always worked for the Eed Govt under their CSRS retirement system which does not pay into SSA). I was told by the SSA office that because I make too much money and according to them, will continue to make too much money upon my retirement, that I will never be able to draw on his SSA benefits although I am his surviving spouse. I will not remarry. Is this true? Upon my retirement i will make over 36,000 per year in gross income. Thank you in advance.

    1. If you are receiving benefits from a government pension, 2/3 of those benefits will offset any social security benefits you are eligible to receive from derivative benefits on someone else’s record. So 2/3 of your CSRS benefits will offset the social security widow benefits you are eligible to receive, and you will receive the excess, if any.

  25. My husband passed 2.5 yrs ago at age 53 from cancer, I just turned 51 in November and am continually told I can’t draw even partial benefits on his SS benefits until I’m 63-65. Is this accurate info? Ive spoken with SS administration and it just doesn’t seem like that is correct info, my bills and house pymt sure didn’t stop on his death and while I have a good full time job, that little partial would help. Thank you!

  26. To fellow widows….so much we learn after filing necessary forms ….aside from being able to “freeze” my husband’s social security and continue to collect my disability until age 70 at which time I could then received 100% of my husband’s…as is at age 62 I get my little spouse’s did, and a percentage of my of husband’s minus mine. Also, if you have recently lost a relative…please check to see if they have any remaining ss benifits, if so see if you can apply for them still….all the school and dependent benefits apply…..I learned all this to late myself.

  27. My wife passed away 8 10 2017, and she did not start her pension benefits from UPS prior her retirement. I applied for spousal pension payments. I received a check for all normal payments up to her death in a lump sum. Now I receive a monthly payment. Is any of this taxable? She was 66 on death and I am 62.

  28. I received a letter from Social Security after my husband’s death four years earlier saying that I was underpaid, because I am a widow. I received back pay for several months. How can I be sure I am receiving the correct amount now? Also, I keep hearing that there are ways to get more SS if you choose certain plans. I was not told this when I signed up. How can I get more information? I contacted Social Security, but they were very vague..

    1. Social security does not have multiple “plans” from which you can choose. You get what is provided by law. If you think that you are being paid an incorrect amount, you can ask them to provide the computational data to you so you can check their computations. If it very complicated, and you probably won’t understand it. The person you spoke to at Social Security probably doesn’t understand it either, which is why they rely on programmed computers to make the computations.

  29. I became a widow at 52, I revieved a life insurance policy and have recently stopped working and living off the life insurance money which i have with a brokerage company through my credit union. My financial advisor provides me a monthly payout from selling mutual funds and stocks (purchased with the life insurance money). I have no other source of income currently. Since the stock market is doing well, I’m assuming my capital gains will be minimal – since the funds have been invested for 3 years now. I am just this year 2017 not working at all and wondering what my tax liability will be? I’ve withdrawn about $60K this year. I need to secure health insurance for 2018 and they need my annual income, I have no idea what to put down. Thank you for your help, and I’ve read through all the postings, you are very informative, I’m so happy I found your site.

  30. I have a question on community property. I live in New York City and I owned a house with my husband for over 40 years. My husband passed away in February this year. Back in 2011, we transferred the deed of the house which was in both of our names, into my name only. We did this to get the asset of his name to apply for medicaid. Now that he has passed away, do I get the step up in basis for his half of the house if I sell it today or 20 years from now? I am planning on moving the house into an irrevocable trust soon. If I sell the house 20 years from now while in the irrevocable trust, what is the cost basis of the house? Do I still get my husband’s step up basis? What if I moved the house into the trust tomorrow, I pass away in 10 years, and my children decide to sell the house in 20 years? What will the cost basis be for the house when my kids sell the house?

    1. Boy, that’s a lot of questions! If he was considered part owner of the home when he died, that portion will get an increased basis equal to its value at the date of his death. But it sounds as though he transferred his ownership to you so that he could show he had no assets for Medicaid purposes, so it probably did not belong to him and it doesn’t get a stepped-up basis. If you move it into a trust, it still has the same tax basis it had in your hands. Upon your death, it will get a stepped up basis if you owned it at your death. If it was owned by an irrevocable trust, it probably would not get a stepped up basis.

  31. I have a question…my father in law passed may of 2017…leaving behind my mother in law.. He was 82 she is 74. She is now receiving widows benefit…he was a transfer and received a small $ amount monthly. She has since received mail that she is beneficiary of this and can opt a monthly payment for life or a lump sum..there is paperwork for taxes. They haven’t had to file taxes in years in Missouri. Does she need to have taxes withheld from lump sum so she won’t owe anythi g or will she still not need to worry about taxes.

    1. If her income exceeds $11,850 in any year she’ll need to file a tax return and pay tax. If she has taxes withheld from her income, then she may still owe a little on her tax return, or perhaps get a refund, depending on how the withholding compares to the taxes on her income.

  32. Constance Callahan

    I am age 69 1/2 and draw social security benefits of $1417 per month after Medicare deductions, I can no longer make ends and I am seeking part=time employment. Will I have to have taxes deducted from these part-time earnings. Also, will I have to pay taxes. How much money can i make each year, part-time earned income and social security, without having to pay taxes.

    Thank you for you time.

    Constance “Connie” Callahan

    1. If your earnings plus social security benefits exceed $25,000, then half of your social security benefits will be taxable. If your earnings plus taxable social security benefits exceed $11,900, then you must file a tax return and pay taxes. If that’s the case, you should have taxes withheld from your pay.

  33. I got my taxes prepared this year. My husband passed in the Fall of 2015. I filed this hear and found out I owe $1200! I have no one living with me, and am single and retired. I learned I owed a “widow” tax. I owe no taxes before that I found out this is so unfair and not right. I took extra money out this year so as to have a refund next year. Plus, I am going to pay this tax off this year. I am really upset about this tax because I feel someone should have told me about this so I could have taken extra money out in preparation and then not have to face payments to the IRS. I am mailing in the payments, not set up by them. Is there a way I could get rid of this tax so I would not owe it?

  34. 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.

    1. You can get widow benefits at age 60, and they will be reduced because you are collecting earlier than full retirement age. You should start the process 2-3 months before the month in which you turn 60.

  35. 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

  36. 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?)

  37. 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.

  38. 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?

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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?

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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

  51. 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.

  52. 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).

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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?

  58. 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.

  59. 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

  60. 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.

  61. 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

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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

  69. 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?

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.


    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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

    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?

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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?

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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!

  87. 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.

  88. 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?

  89. 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!

  90. 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!

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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.


  95. 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 ????

  96. 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.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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

  100. 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

  101. 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.

  102. 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?

  103. 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.

  104. 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%.

  105. 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.

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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?

  111. 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.

  112. 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.

  113. 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,,,

  114. 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

  115. 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.

  116. 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!!

  117. 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)?

  118. 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.

  119. 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.

  120. 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????

  121. 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

  122. 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.

  123. 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!

  124. 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.

  125. 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…

  126. 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.

  127. 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?

  128. 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?

  129. 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?

  130. 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.


    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.

  132. 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 ?

  133. 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.

  134. 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.

  135. 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?

  136. 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.

  137. 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?

  138. 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.

  139. 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

  140. 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.

  141. 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.

  142. 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!

  143. 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.

  144. 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.

  145. 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.

  146. 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.

  147. 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.

  148. 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

  149. 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. Sandra Caccese