Social Security benefits ensure people have access to the financial resources they need to cover basic living expenses. Because life circumstances can change drastically over short periods of time, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has also established criteria for increasing benefits when necessary.
It is important to understand these criteria in case you are eligible for an increase in benefits. Here are a few situations to be aware of that could affect your financial outlook.
Caring for a minor child or disabled adult child
Caring for a child under the age of 18 could make you eligible for more benefits. Your benefits may also increase if you have a disabled adult child in your care, as you may require a higher income to provide sufficient care to that child.
You can claim the benefits of a former spouse after the age of 62, provided your marriage lasted at least ten years. In this case, the SSA bases available benefits on your former spouse’s work history.
The death of a current or former spouse
The death of an eligible spouse can increase the survivor benefits you receive. Once again, your current or former spouse’s work history determines how much of an increase in benefits you receive.
Decline of income
The SSA will review your income to determine the proper level of benefits. If your income level decreases, benefits will usually increase to make up for the difference.
Death of an assistive adult child
Some people receive financial support from adult children. If this person is eligible for benefits based on their work history, you can receive them on their behalf to account for the lost support.
If you have experienced a change to your finances that is not described by the above topics, you should still reach out to the SSA. Also, keep in mind that you can appeal a denial of benefits if you believe the decision was wrong.