Social Security offers benefits not only to retirees but also to their survivors after they pass away. But making the most of those survivors' benefits can be tricky.

In the following video from our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Fool reader Dave, who asks what impact claiming survivors' benefits will have on benefits based on one's own work history later. Dan notes that the key question is whether a person is taking benefits based on his or her own work history first, as that limits the amount of survivors' benefits you're entitled to receive. By contrast, if you haven't yet taken Social Security under your own work record, you can take survivors' benefits and still get the advantages of waiting to take your own Social Security, such as delayed retirement credits. Dan concludes that it's smart to consider all your Social Security options if you're in the unfortunate situation of having had your spouse pass away.

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Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.