Do Your Patriotic Duty and Brush Up on Survivors Benefits with Social Security

September 11, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: September 11, 2017

American Flag In 2009, Congress designated September 11 as a national day of service and remembrance for those who gave their lives in service to the nation. As we honor the sacrifices made on Patriot Day, it might be a good time to learn more about how Social Security can help the survivors of these fallen heroes.

A good place to start would be to visit From here, you can learn how we calculate a benefit amount for survivors, and what protection we offer a family if a loved one dies.

Widows and widowers may be eligible to receive monthly Social Security benefits on the record of a deceased worker as early as age 60 (or age 50 if disabled). In certain cases, we can pay benefits to a widow and widower at any age who is caring for a child under age 16.

And did you know that Social Security provides an important source of financial support to some children? As a survivor of a deceased parent insured for Social Security benefits, a child can generally be paid until age 18 (or 19, if enrolled as a full-time high school student). We can also continue to pay benefits past age 18 or 19 if the child has a disability that began before they turn 22 years old.

Under a special rule, benefits can also be paid even if the deceased has not worked and paid Social Security taxes for a long period of time. Generally, the younger you are when you die, the fewer credits you need for your survivors to be eligible for benefits.

Another good source of information is our publication, How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies, available at

If you think you’re eligible and want to apply for survivors benefits, you can file online easily. The online application process is straightforward and will give you a list of documents you’ll need to gather before you begin.

Losing a loved one is never easy, but knowing Social Security can help the survivors left behind may bring some comfort during a difficult time. As we recall the sacrifices made on Patriot Day, let’s do our patriotic duty to brush up on what Social Security services are available for survivors by visiting

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Michelle R.

    Spousal advantages depend on a living life partner or ex-companion’s work history. Survivor benefits depend on a perished life partner or ex-companion’s work history.

  2. michael g.

    I’m a widower and started getting social security from my wife social security when I was 60 since she was 2 years older then myself. What I want to know is if I go back to work will my total amount recieved from social security go against the $17.640.00 that I’m allowed to make or is it above this amount before the 1 for every 2 made is taken

  3. Althea C.

    The places you have for people to click on just give me the runaround! I need to get in touch with SSI asap because my Widow’s benefits did not go into my checking account!

  4. Joan M.

    I’m affected by GPO. Every year I received a form to fill out stating my current monthly income which increases a little every year. Then my monthly SS check would be adjusted. This year I received no form so I sent it on my own. Finally received info from SS in Aug, Sept and Nov. saying I was overpaid in 2017 and haven’t adjusted my SS in 2018. Why does it take so long. Feel I should hire someone to help me get this straightened out.

    • Vonda V.

      Thank you for contacting us, Joan. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      We understand your frustration and apologize for the delays; however, it is important that you continue working with your local office.

  5. Sheila m.

    If your spouce dies and you are already drawinv your ssi can you receive widows benefits

    • Ray F.

      Hello Sheila, if you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can receive reduced survivors benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled). For those already receiving retirement benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the retirement benefit you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor.
      To see if you qualify for a higher benefit amount, or to make an appointment with your local Social Security office, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

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