What to Do When A Couple Living on Social Security Losses a Spouse
Imagine this. You are married and you and your spouse each live on Social Security. One spouse receives $1,200 per month, the other receives $800. Combined income: $2,000 per month. The house is paid for, but there are still those constant bills like electricity, water, homeowner’s insurance, cell phone, auto insurance, gasoline and food. And if you’re not on Extra Help or a Medicare Savings Program, the copays for prescriptions and certain medical services.
One of you passes away. The survivor gets the larger of the two checks (the $1,200 one). You may eliminate a few bills (one cell phone if each had a phone and a little less food and water). But on average, the bills will be almost the same while income has been slashed by one third, or $800. This is not a hypothetical, it’s a matter of when.
Through all this, there will be the final expense costs for a funeral, casket, headstone and burial. This is happening every day across America.
If you didn’t buy life insurance by now and you’re retired, it’s too late. Often, when asked about life insurance, the reply many gives is, “I don’t need that right now.” Well, if you needed it RIGHT NOW, you can’t get it. It’s too late. Which is why if you do not have a final expense insurance policy, already, you need to look at it while you don’t need it and you’re in better health, so you can get it at a reasonable premium.
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The average funeral costs around $7,000 and up. Factors that determine the cost are the casket, size of headstone, funeral home, food and beverages for the wake, transportation of the remains, etc.
Final Expense insurance policies start as low as $5,000 and can go as high as $55,000. While you may not need $10,000 to $55,000 for the actual funeral, keep in mind that anything not used for final expenses are the survivor’s to keep – it’s your benefit. If you don’t have a life insurance policy, this is a way to have some excess to help with the transition to the new normal of being a surviving spouse.
For example. Let’s say you purchased a $30,000 policy. Final expenses were $7,000. That leaves a balance of $23,000. If you budgeted $600 per month form this remaining balance (since your expenses would go down slightly), that would provide the income level you are accustomed to for over three years (38.3 months to be exact).
While we would pray you have many more years to live, it would provide a three-year period to adjust for your needs and budget to meet them. You would not be forced to make drastic decisions during one of the hardest times of your life.
While one’s budget will determine how high the benefit could be, one thing is for certain, you need to make sure you get the information while you DON’T need it. Know now what your options are and plan well. Remember, it’s not a matter of if, but when. Are you ready?