By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
We know your circumstances may change after you apply — or become eligible — for benefits. If you, or a family member, receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain life changes could increase your benefit amount.
As part of our Potential Entitlement initiative, we want to help you identify where you might qualify for a higher benefit. For example, you may be entitled to higher benefits based on your own earnings record or someone else’s record. Some of the life changes that could possibly increase your benefits include the following scenarios:
- If your spouse or ex-spouse dies, you may be eligible for a higher survivor benefit based on their earnings record. The death of an ex-spouse may entitle you to a higher survivor benefit even if you are already receiving a survivor benefit on another spouse’s record. We encourage you to read our publication, Survivors Benefits, for additional information at ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10084.pdf.
- If you are receiving Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work and you worked and earned credits, you may be eligible for a higher retirement benefit based on your own work. You can view our Retirement page at ssa.gov/retirement.
- If your deceased adult child provided at least half of your support, you may be eligible for a higher parent’s benefit based on your child’s work history. Our publication, Parent’s Benefits, includes information you may want to consider at ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10036.pdf.
We continue to focus our Potential Entitlement initiative on people who face barriers. These populations include older people, children with disabilities, veterans, SSI recipients, and people with limited English proficiency. We are proud to say that since we started the initiative in 2017, our efforts have resulted in approximately $553 million in retroactive and total monthly increased benefits paid.
Check out our Explore the Benefits You May Be Due page at www.ssa.gov/potentialentitlement for more information on any additional benefits available for you and your family. You can use your personal my Social Security account to check your benefit and payment information – along with your earnings record. If you don’t have a personal my Social Security account, you can create one today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount!
Please share this information with your friends and family — and post it on social media.
Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.