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Social Security Survivor Benefits

Social Security Survivor Benefits

September 25, 2023

Just as it’s important to prepare for what happens if you pass away, you should consider the Social Security benefits that may be available if you are the survivor — the spouse, child or parent — of a worker who dies.

How are Survivors Benefits Calculated?

Each year, workers can earn up to 4 credits for a certain amount of money earned in wages or self-employment income. These credits determine the benefits provided to survivors. You don’t need more than 40 credits to be eligible for any Social Security benefit.

Who is Eligible to Receive Benefits?

Certain family members may be eligible to receive monthly benefits, including a/an:

  • A spouse who is 60 or older (Or who is 50 and older if they are disabled)
  • A divorced spouse (in some circumstances)
  • A spouse of any age who is caring for a child under 16 or if that child is disabled
  • A child who is unmarried, younger than 18 or is 18 and has a disability that started before they were 22
  • And under certain circumstances:
    • A stepchild, grandchild, step grandchild or adopted child
    • Parents, age 62 or older, who depended on the deceased for at least half of their support

Applying for Survivors Benefits

You cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online. To report the death and/or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to a Social Security representative, or contact your local Social Security office.

The documents you need may depend on the benefit you’re applying for including: Widows/Widowers or Surviving Divorced Spouse's Benefits, Child’s Benefits, Mother’s or Father’s Benefits, Lump-Sum Death Payment, or Parent’s Benefits.

Knowing Your Options

Social Security Survivor benefits are largely circumstantial, so it’s important to be aware of your options based on your situation. If you think you may be eligible for Social Security Survivor benefits, contact my office for more information about the process.