Originally Posted by crazy connie
As far as I know for widows:
There is a $250 death benefit.
At age 60 she can draw a widows benefit of 1/2 of his amount until she is eligible for her own. Then she draws whichever is higher 1/2 of his or her own.
The widowís benefit is not 1/2 of the decedent's, it is identical to the decedentís as long as she fulfills some requirements as to when she begins benefits, etc.
I recommend that she go in person to a SS office and talk to them. I know nothing about the buyout; if her own SS record is strong and vested already the buyout might be good for her since she would be depending on her own record anyway. If her record is such that his payment (suitably advanced by COLA until she would begin) might be better then don't let them buy her out!
This is a complicated situation, but she just needs someone who can think through the choices and likely she will not need a lawyer. Connie mentioned the SS website. This website has a section that explicitly deals with widows benefits. Widows/widowers benefits should not be confused with spousal benefits.