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 www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors. 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 www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.
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 www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.