FAQs About Social Security Survivors Benefits

Today we are pleased to share some very useful information from the Social Security Administration about the right of survivors to collect a loved ones’ Social Security benefits.

  1. Who can get Social Security survivors benefits and how do I apply?

Response: When you die, members of your family could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings. You and your children also may be able to get benefits if your deceased spouse or former spouse worked long enough under Social Security.

  1. Who can get survivors benefits?

Response: Widows and Widowers
A widow or widower can receive benefits

  • at age 60 or older.
  • at age 50 or older if disabled.
  • at any age if she or he takes care of a child of the deceased who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

Divorced Widows and Widowers
A divorced widow or widower can receive benefits

  • at age 60 or older if the marriage to the deceased lasted at least 10 years.
  • at age 50 or older if disabled and the marriage to the deceased lasted at least 10 years.
  • at any age if she or he takes care of a child of the deceased who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

Unmarried children
Unmarried children can receive benefits if they are:

  • younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time);
  • any age and were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.

Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, stepgrandchildren or adopted children.

Dependent parents
Parents age 62 or older who received at least one-half support from the deceased can receive benefits.

One-time lump sum death payment
A one-time payment of $255 can be made only to a spouse or child if they meet certain requirements. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.

  1. How do I apply doe Survivors Benefits?

Response: You cannot apply for survivors benefits online. To report a death or apply for survivors benefits, please

  1. Where can I find more information about Survivors Benefits?

Response: You can find more information about Survivors benefits by accessing the following links: Survivors Planner: How You Apply For Survivors Benefits
Survivors Planner: If You Are The Worker’s Widow Or Widower
Survivors Benefits
Social Security Survivors Benefits: Protection You And Your Family Can Count On

  1. What Should I do when someone dies?

Response: Notify Social Security as soon as possible when someone getting benefits dies. In most cases, the funeral director will report the person’s death to Social Security. Give the funeral director the deceased’s Social Security number so he or she can report the death.

See How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies for more information.

  1. How much do survivors get in benefits?

Response: We base survivors benefits on the amount the deceased worker earned during his or her lifetime.

See Survivors Planner: How Much Would Your Benefit Be? for more information.

  1. Who can get a lump-sum death benefit?

 Response:  We may pay a lump-sum death benefit of $255 to:

  • A spouse who was living with the deceased person at the time of death; or
  • A spouse or a child who, in the month of death, is eligible for a Social Security benefit based on the deceased person’s record.

More Information

Survivors Planner: A Special Lump-Sum Death Payment

Information You Need To Apply For Lump Sum Death Benefit – Form SSA-8

     8. Can Social Security payments go to the estates of deceased beneficiaries?

Response: A deceased beneficiary may have been due a Social Security payment at the time of death. We may pay amounts due a deceased beneficiary to a family member or legal representative of the estate.

See Claim For Amounts Due In The Case Of Deceased Beneficiary – Form SSA-1724 for more information.