For the second time in three days, CNN economics correspondent Kathleen Hays made an inaccurate claim regarding Social Security. On the February 3 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Hays incorrectly claimed that under the current system, workers are unable to "pass their Social Security retirement benefits on to their heirs." In fact, surviving spouses and children can all obtain benefits based on the lifetime payroll taxes paid by a deceased parent or spouse.
As the Social Security Administration explains, a surviving spouse is entitled to receive the "full benefits" that the deceased spouse would have been entitled to upon reaching the standard retirement age (currently 65, but scheduled over time to increase to 67). Even divorced spouses are entitled to those benefits, subject to certain conditions. Before reaching retirement age, a surviving spouse caring for a child under the age of 18 (or 19 if that child is still in high school) is also entitled to receive significant monthly benefits.
From the February 3 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:
HAYS: Another plus -- it would give workers a way to pass their Social Security retirement benefits on to their heirs. Under the current system, those benefits stay with the government.
On February 1, Hays erroneously understated the amount of benefits that the Social Security trust fund will be able to pay future retirees if no changes are made to the system, as Media Matters for America documented.