Survivors’ benefits are a type of Social Security benefits paid to surviving family members when someone dies. This may include benefits paid to the widow(er), parents or children.
In my experience, not a lot of attorneys take survivors’ benefits cases so it is difficult to get your questions answered:
- Am I, or my children, eligible for survivors’ benefits?
- When am I, or my children, eligible for survivors’ benefits?
- Social Security stopped my, or my children’s, survivors’ benefits. Why?
Social Security has a Electronic Fact Sheet which provides a summary of who may be eligible to receive monthly benefits. If Social Security stops your survivors’ benefits, knowing who may be eligible can help you figure out if the cessation of benefits is proper or not.
Some of the deceased’s family members may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.
Who can get survivors’ benefits?
1) A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
2) A surviving spouse at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child under age 16 or disabled;
3) An unmarried child of the deceased who is: a) Younger than age 18 (or age 18 or 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or b) Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22;
4) Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and
5) A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.
These benefits are in addition to the one time “death benefit.”
A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased’s record in the month of death.
Note: this is just an overview. There are specific requirements for widow(er)’s benefits and children’s survivors benefits, and parent’s benefits (if caring for a child under 16).
Image provided by Jose Quental.