Social Security is a key benefit for retirees after they quit work. But it's also an essential part of financial planning for survivors after their spouses pass away. It's important to get the information you need to make an informed decision about survivors' benefits under Social Security.

In this installment of our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from David, who asks about the details of widow and widower benefits. Dan confirms that surviving spouses are eligible to receive benefits at age 60, but you'll take an almost 30% haircut on your survivors' benefits if you do so compared to waiting until full retirement age. In addition, Dan goes through the ins and outs of how to coordinate survivors' benefits with Social Security payments based on your own work history, noting that in some cases, delaying your own benefits can lead to greater lifetime total payments than switching to your own benefit at age 62. Dan recommends visiting the Social Security Administration website's section on survivors' benefits as a smart resource for planning for retirement.

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

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. 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.