Most people don’t realize (or do, but don’t plan for it) that, as a couple, there is lost income from Social Security automatically built in. I discussed examples in a post titled “Social Security and Survivor Considerations.”
In this post, the question is … How much money* is needed to replace that lost income?
First, the answer depends on time, or more specifically your age, when the loss occurs. Why? Because the older you are, the less you need because you yourself have fewer years remaining. You can see this in what are called “life tables.” Because you have fewer years of lost income, the less you need to replace it. Said differently, the younger you are the more you need to replace lost income because now you have more years of loss.
Second, the answer depends on inflation.
Last, the amount depends on how much younger the survivor is compared to the one who goes first.
The below illustration shows these three elements working together.