Showing posts with label Finances. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finances. Show all posts

Monday, December 12, 2016

Receiving Social Security Benefits as a Widow

Here is some helpful information sent to me about Social Security benefits. 

Receiving Social Security Benefits as a Widow

If you have lost your husband unexpectedly, the last thing on your mind should be your household’s finances. Unfortunately, making ends meet can become challenging for many wives who’ve lost their spouse, especially for younger women. If your loved one has passed away, there could be help available for you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for dependent spouses and children when a provider passes away. Here are some steps to ask yourself to help determine whether or not you should start the application process.

Step One: Determine if your husband worked enough to qualify.
The SSA will only pay benefits to spouses, known as survivors’ benefits, to the dependents of deceased workers. This means that if your husband did not have a job that paid taxes, you will not qualify for any Social Security benefits.

Fortunately, the income needed to qualify for survivors’ benefits is moderately low. If your husband earned around $5,000 per year for any five of the past ten years, he will have worked enough for you and your children to qualify.

Step Two: Know if you are old enough to qualify for auxiliary benefits.

Younger spouses can skip this step. The SSA is very strict when it comes to how old a spouse must be to receive auxiliary benefits on their own behalves from a deceased spouse. If you have a disability yourself, you can begin claiming auxiliary benefits at age 50. Otherwise, it’s age 60.

This makes it very challenging for young women to receive auxiliary benefits, but not impossible. Just shy of 140,000 young widows and widowers receive survivors’ benefits. The other option available for young spouses is to receive benefits while raising a child.

Step Three: If you’re not age 60+, determine if you have a qualifying child.

The SSA will award all dependent children of a deceased spouse benefits on behalf of their father until age 18, or age 19 if still in high school. But many widows may not realize that they are also eligible for benefits as a parent.

A widow who is taking care of a child who’s lost her parent, and is under age 16, is eligible for survivors’ benefits. This means that all widows with children age 15 and under can receive a second check for themselves for the hardship of losing a parent. It does not matter how old you are: If you have a young child, you will be eligible for benefits.

This is true even if your spouse had children from another marriage. Stepchildren or adopted children will not only be eligible for auxiliary benefits, but will allow you to
receive auxiliary benefits as well. Once your child turns 16, he or she will be the only recipient of disability benefits.

Step Four: If all else fails, you are still entitled to a one-time payment.

If your husband earned enough work credits, you can lump sum death benefit of $255. The only requirement is that you lived with your spouse at the time of his passing.

To apply for Social Security survivors’ benefits for yourself or any children on behalf of your late husband, you will need to visit your closest SSA office. You can schedule an appointment by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. Once you or your children are approved for survivors’ benefits, you can focus on healing. Who receives survivors’ benefits Withdrawing retirement to apply for survivors’ benefits.

Submitted by:

Deanna Power, Director of Outreach at Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people qualify for Social Security benefits. If you have any questions on this topic, or would like to learn more about qualifying for survivors’ benefits, feel free to reach out at [email protected]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

$ Giving $ Guidelines $

There's a needy world around us, and many widows are very needy too!
But there's also a wicked world around us, and we need to be "wise as serpents but gentle as doves."

So today I'd like to offer some gentle guidelines for wise giving. We are to be good stewards of the provisions God has given us---not only $$$, but also housing, clothes, food, etc. Even if we don't have $$$ to give, (I know this by experience) we can share food, clothes and shelter because there are always others in need. Sharing life's necessities is a good thing, but we need to guard against wicked greediness which goes straight for the bucks. Here's the nitty gritty on gentle but wise giving guidelines.

Don't make any loans. That's what banks are for. You are not a bank.
(this is from Do's & Don't for Widows which I'd posted last month)
  • Let's say someone you love wants to borrow money from you. Happens to widows all the time. But why can't this person go to the bank? If the bank doesn't trust them to re-pay, neither should you.
  • Do they want to let you in on an amazing investment opportunity? Why isn't anyone else in on it if it's that good? Tell them Mr. Policeman or the IRS would probably love to hear about it too.
  • Do they turn ugly and barrage you with abuse or threats like, "You'll never see the grandkids again!" if you don't loan them the money? Let them know that's called extortion. Besides revealing themselves as real slimeballs, extortion could land them in jail!
  • In the meantime, in any of these cases, call in reinforcements: your church, your widowed girlfriends, your financial advisor, your 'board of directors.' The next time you are approached, let them meet your reinforcements. (Board of directors idea is from Miriam Neff's book From One Widow to Another. The board is composed of the following: a person with financial wisdom, a practical friend, a godly widow, an encourager, a person with spiritual discernment & courage, and a relative whose priority is YOUR well-being)
What if someone asked outright for money and their need was really desperate and immediate? If someone asks, we're supposed to give, right?
  • No. In the New Testament, giving is done through the church. Especially the woman without a protector/accountability figure in her life should use the church to channel her giving. Even though I'm remarried, Tom and I still apply this principle.
  • Here's how it works. If someone---this could be anyone you meet on the street, in a support group, on Facebook, a blogger---anyone! When asked for money, call your church's (or their church's) benevolence ministry. The church will then evaluate the true need, and if you desire, you can donate to the benevolent fund. In most cases you cannot earmark the money--- "Here's $$$ for so and so," but you may designate it towards the proper fund and the church will use your donation for either the exact person or the next need. This brings the larger body of Christ to meet the need, and it safeguards you. 
  • We need our churches! If we're ashamed to show them who we're giving to or why, then that's a warning light, and I hope we see it as a stop light!
What if it's the pastor or church asking me for money?
  • Again, you are not a bank. In my opinion, they shouldn't be asking you. But sometimes this happens for special projects.
  • If you feel God wants you to give for a special church project, make sure you thoroughly discuss it with your financial advisor and/or board of directors and even your family members. Your children would need to know about this in case you fall ill or die unexpectedly.
  • If it's a personal loan to the pastor, just say no. And then find a new church. Things get weird if a pastor is financially indebted to members of the congregation. You, as a widow, don't need that mess right now.
  • Missionaries frequently need to raise support and you might be asked to donate a monthly amount. This is perfectly normal but if you're a US resident, be sure it goes through their mission board so you can receive a receipt for a tax deduction for charitable giving. If you're outside the US, follow the standards for your country.
What about other organizations and websites?
  • The only ones asking for money should be non-profits, with a 501(c)(3) tax status which will be clearly noted about them. Keep your receipts for tax time, but they should also send you a year-end statement of giving. Don't be shy about asking for it. If they don't have the tax exemption status, if they don't have a mailing address and physical location, working phone number, board members, referrals and other signals that they're legitimate---if they haven't bothered to address those issues, then they're probably not going to be around long enough to do anything but cash your check. Just say 'No!' 
  • Use Charity Navigator to look into organizations you're interested in supporting. This great website has done the research for you and shows how various organizations will use your gift. Will it pad the CEO's pocket or really reach that hungry orphan? Plus, it's loaded with all sorts of tips for giving and ways to protect yourself from scams.
Thanks for letting me raise this issue of giving today. And in closing, please know that if you ever get an email, Facebook message, blog post, etc from WC Place, Lifeboat groups or even me asking for money, it's a scam. It's not me! And please notify me immediately!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Financial Tips from "Bible Money Matters"

Money by Junior Libby
Here's a free financial newsletter I receive by email. It's loaded with relevant articles and important
updates about the money world and could be just the right advice for you!
We all have financial questions, and Bible Money Matters addresses just about everything with well defined titles that point out the answers so you know which of the many articles will help.

Here's a sample of their articles. Click on them and you'll immediately land there:

An Emergency Fund Is More Than Just Money In the Bank: You may have more money available than you think

Ways to Watch TV Without Paying An Arm and A Leg For Cable or Satellite

50 Ways To Make Money: Maximizing, Creating And Increasing Your Income

50 Easy Ways To Save Money Every Month

50 Easy Ways To Save Money Every Month

10 Tips To Help Sell Your Home Fast In A Down Market

Should I Pay Off My Home Mortgage Early Or Invest?

College Expenses: Should Parents Pay For Their Children’s Tuition?

The tremendous amount of content can be overwhelming for the widow "fog" that often clouds our thinking, so typing a keyword into the search box is the best way to find the answers you need. Unfortunately, there's not much information specifically geared to widows, but you'll soon realize that the money problems of widows are common to married people too. Step by step, dollar by dollar, this site can help widows begin to rebuild their lives.

PS---Don't forget to enter our drawing in celebration of National Chocolate Ice Cream Day on June 7! Every comment is an entry. Scroll down to May 24th post for more info. If you receive this by email, click on the title to access the blog and make a comment. Enter today to win a copy of Postcards from the Widows Path, plus a $25 gift card!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Widow In Debt

empty mason jar
Originally uploaded by drburtoni
She couldn't pay her bills so they were coming to sell her sons into slavery . . .

2 Kings 4 (New International Version)
The Widow's Oil

1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves."

2 Elisha replied to her, "How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?"
"Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a little oil."

3 Elisha said, "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side."

5 She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another one."

But he replied, "There is not a jar left." Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left."

Resources you have on hand + godly counsel + believing and obeying that counsel = God's provision

If you're struggling, please let your church know. Add your prayer request here on the Need Prayer tab, or join a Lifeboat group and have them pray for you too. You don't have to face this alone!

On Wednesdays we share stories of widows, a different one each week. They might be from the Bible, from history, from the news headlines or maybe even from you! Your “ordinary” story will be told here to others who will understand how “extraordinary” it truly is, so please tell us about yourself. Just email me at [email protected] and I will make it easy for you. ferree

Friday, January 25, 2013

Financial Counsel for Widows

Let me state the obvious: Money is a common problem for widows. There's either too little or too much. In either case, wise counsel should be found and followed.

How can you find a good financial advisor? That's a daunting question for many people, widowed or not! But here is a link with some good advice from Crown Financial on the matter--Finding Financial Counsel
Crown Financial has a number of other articles and tools for budgeting. They offer training in financial counselling to churches and much more. They're simply the oldest and best Christian financial ministry I know.
Here is a link to a 20 page pdf file they've provided to serve widows--Widows Financial Guide. Print it out and read it through with a highlighter in hand for important points.
Peruse their website for answers to many more of your financial questions.
Once you do find a good financial advisor, as tempting as it is, don't drop everything in their lap. It's still your money, your life. Continue to:
  • Use these and other resources.
  • Call upon God, the wisest and greatest financial advisor of all!
  • Before you act on any financial advice, compare it to another's counsel. Make sure it lines up with God's wisdom.
  • Take your time.
  • Just say "No" to borrowers. You can soften the blow a bit by saying something like, "I need to be very careful with my finances right now and I'm just not ready to make any decisions at this time." You are not a cash cow. If you have a life insurance benefit, it was intended to last a very long time, perhaps the rest of your life. Your adult kids will always need money. The church will always need money. They are not your sole responsibility, no matter how guilt-ridden or special they make you feel. If you have a life insurance benefit of  hundred thousand, a quarter of a million, half a million, a million . . . it might look like a lot now, but you'll wish you still had it five years from now. Later on, when you're ready and you've been able to spend time asking God what to do about your finances, you'll be able to make wise and benevolent decisions about gifts and loans.   
Rebuilding your life---like any other venture, it's not easy; but seeking wise financial counsel will make it much easier and worthwhile.
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
Proverbs 14:1(NASB)
By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established
Proverbs 24:3 (NASB)

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Social Security & A Widow's Distribution

    A news article last week raised my eyebrow, and my claws--- but the title is misleading.

    Widows Getting Cheated Out of Social Security Really? A title like that brings to mind deliberate oversights by Social Security administration. They throw enough red tape and hassle at a widow anyway, but--thank goodness-- they're not out to deliberately cheat widows at this point.

    What the article really emphasizes is how a married couple can go to a financial planner, and select their retirement goals and plans without considering the likely scenario of what will happen if the wife is widowed. Shame on the financial planner!

    Moral of the story--- even though your husband's gone, check into your Social Security benefits  and any distribution options you may have already selected. Make sure you understand the long range outcomes. Find out if you have any better options.

    Today I posted "Find the Papers & You'll Find the $$$" up at the top of this blog. Although it's intended to help new widows prepare for the days to come, other readers might find some good tips too. If you have other $ tips for widows, please chime in so we can all learn from each other. Thanks!

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    The Dreadful Art of Buying A Car

    Dear One,
    I'm so sorry, but sooner or later you'll probably have to do it.

    Here's a good article about dealing with the process--Battle of  Wills. It tells us, "Expertise is really just another term for extra information." This article may give you just enough of the extra info you need for the winning edge. I especially like the part about having an exit strategy and knowing your negotiation limits.

    What advice do you have to share about buying a car? I recommend the following:
    • Find a mechanic you trust to examine the car before you put any money on it.
    • NEVER co-sign for your kids cars or anyone else's. (I know all about the whining and nagging, but let THEM FIGURE IT OUT FOR THEMSELVES. If not, you've just started down the path named Major Mistake). 
    • You don't need a pricey hot new car. Leave the car/identity/self-esteem issues to the guys. People who love you don't care what you drive or they'd buy you a car themselves. 
    • Know yourself. Be honest. Are you a pushover for a suave salesman? Then take someone along with you who knows this and hates this about you; you need them to protect you from yourself! And be sure to listen to them! Agree on an exit signal ahead of time, like a final price or code word. When you reach that point, stand up and leave. Don't worry, the salesman will call you when he's ready to meet your price.
    So check out this article. If you find others, or have some good advice of your own, please feel free to share it on the comment line below.

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Help For Budgets

    Here's one of my new year's resolutions: get the budget under control! And although widowhood creates its own style of chaos, there are basic budget guidelines that can still be applied---like creating a menu, sticking to a grocery list, using coupons (my personal downfall), and getting FREE STUFF!

    I'll be getting some help on all of the above from this website Money Saving Mom

    I'm especially going to follow the articles on $35 to $60 Menus. Why? I'm sick of cooking, I hate grocery shopping, and deciding what to eat/feed people everyday is just a drag! Since I'm past "widow fog" now---maybe I'm dealing with getting-old-fog, lol! In any case, if I just follow this website I can find these low-cost menus and have a easy and economical answer for that dreadful question, "What's for supper?" The ideas will work for everyone, even widows!
    Once you're on the website:
    • click on the ARTICLES tab at the top bar
    • click on CATEGORIES in the drop down menu
    • scroll down, down, down to FROM MY KITCHEN category
    • click on $35 to $60 Menus (linked here for your convenience)
    I hope you enjoy this helpful site!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Will That Be Cash, Check, Credit, IRA, Trust, Tax or Confusing?

    One of the most daunting tasks of widowhood has got to be the financial decisions! At a time when it's hard to decide which shoe goes on which foot, you're expected to make important decisions about money terms and unfamiliar policies.

    To untangle financial worries, here's a good place to start: Crown Financial's website for all sorts of budget help. Click the "Tools" tab for articles, calculators, free downloads and much more!

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Single Living Skill: Should You Rent Out A Room?

    Have you ever thought taking in a boarder and sharing the living expenses?

    Look before you leap, as the saying goes, and here's a recent article to consider:

    This concept is nothing new. I'll bet if you ask around, you might find that your grandparents or other family members were either the landlords or the boarders. Also, authors Elizabeth Elliott and Jerry Sittser (A Grace Disguised) each had boarders when they were widowed.

    Think about it. Is it for you? Most importantly, pray about it. And I'd love to hear your opinions and comments!

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Money Matters

    Tuesdays are dedicated to Single Living Skills so send in your handy household tips, recipes, directions for plunging the toilet and all the other fun stuff you get to do now.
    If I ever put together "A Widow's Emergency Kit" for new widows (and I intend to do that real soon --please send me your suggestions, ok?), we'll need advice and information on money. One of the best resources around is the Crown Financial Ministries website.
    Here are a few of the great things you can use from Crown:
    • Free information, especially this great article for widows
    • Free 20-minute financial coaching sessions: click on Find A Coach on the homepage
    • Helpful Q & A about money
    • Free on-line calculators: credit cards pay-offs, mortgages, debts, loans, wages, rent vs. buy, etc.
    • Children's curriculum to teach them about money and wise spending habits 
    Please visit this site and let me know if you find it helpful. Also let me know if there are other Christian financial helps you like. You're comments will help others!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Where To Start With Finances

    One of the most daunting tasks of widowhood has got to be the financial decisions! At a time when it's hard to decide which shoe goes on which foot, you're expected to make important decisions about money terms and unfamiliar policies.

    To untangle financial worries, here's a good place to start: What New Widows Need to Know by Howard Dayton, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. After you read the article go to Crown's website for all sorts of budget help. Click the "Tools" and "Articles" tabs to find free advice and, budget guides and calculators.

    Thursday posts tell about help for widows. It might be an organization, book, or website. I hope that as we go along this page will become one of the most valuable parts of the blog as it collects perhaps little known, but faithful and essential ministries to widows all over the country, maybe even the world! If you have benefitted from such an organization, book or website, please let me know about it.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Great Money Saving Tips

    We continue with this single-living skill: Handling Money. Every widow needs to get a grip on this. Which tips work for you? What specific things do you need to work on? What questions do you have? You can email me at [email protected] 

    Establish Frugal Habits

    17. Clip coupons. Try,, or

    18. Recycle and reuse.

    19. Re-evaluate your entertainment choices. Visit the library for free entertainment. Use Red Box movies at Walmart or visit the Dollar Theater. Consider reducing or eliminating attendance at sporting or music events. Try local artists and entertainers instead of the big buck for big names.
    20. Visit garage sales.

    21. Shop off brands or discount retailers.

    22. Do your own yardwork.

    23. Stop going out to eat. Bring your lunch to work/school.

    24. Pay bills online to avoid postage expense and the cost of checks.

    25. Drink only water at restaurants.

    26. Bunch your travel or errands in order to save gas.

    27. Form a supper club instead of going out to eat. Share money saving ideas with the group.

    28. Buy kids’ clothes on clearance in the off season for the next year.

    29. Use best price finder sites for items (,,

    30. Buy generic food brands, buy what’s on sale, buy a less expensive version (i.e. hamburger instead of steak), buy store brand items.
    If you want to see all 50 money tip at once, just click here. Many thanks to The Church at Brook Hills for permission to share these.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    More Money Tips for Widows

    Money tips are continued today. (The first 10 were Tues. May 25--click on Tuesday Label in the right column if you're interested). If you want to see all 50 at once, just click here. Personally, following through on one or two is enough of a challenge for me, so I have to break them down like this. Many thanks to The Church at Brook Hills for permission to share these.

    Practical Planning Tips

    11. Look at your monthly expenses and evaluate which items are needs and which items are wants.

    12. Create and follow a written financial plan (budget). Start by praying about it. Proverbs 16:9

    13. Document your cash flow in and out for 3 months in order to see where you’re spending (try using a tracking software such as Quicken).

    14. Monitor progress toward your goals by setting weekly/monthly checkpoints and evaluating the changes you’ve made. Review your finances each month.

    15. Take advantage of free retirement matching from your employer.

    16. Evaluate your outstanding debt and form a plan of attack to pay it off.

    Did you find this helpful? Help out other widows by sending in your financial tips or single-living skills to: [email protected]