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. camille p.

    Find out about child support papers and if SDI has received them

  2. camille

    Find out about child support papers and if SDI has received them

  3. Sheila C.

    This is sheilacrumm1 I have a lot of disabilities but I’m always denied I have colon cancer and rectal cancer it’s a restageing disease I’m half blind half deaf I have bipolar disorder 1&2. A mood swing disorder Seaver scoliosis, I can hardly walk special ed in school I need help I’m homeless

  4. William W.

    What is the death benefit to my widoow

  5. Hospitals &.

    FICA <15.0%

    The Federal Insurance Contributions Act for the 12.4% Old Age Survivor Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund is established as a 6.2% OASDI tax and 1.45% HI tax + 0.9% tax on high incomes, that is collected by the employer of the taxpayer under 26USC§3101 and §3102. There is imposed on employers a 6.2% + 1.45% excise tax under 26USC§1111.

    The Board of Trustees must learn to calculate the optimal distribution rate for the 12.4% OASDI tax, tax the rich, end poverty by 2020 and limit HI payroll tax revenues from the 2.9% HI payroll tax revenues to <2.6% for 3% annually, has been settled again with three years of zero growth beginning CY 18 to CY 20 when they again outrageously ask for 3.7% growth, not having learned the 3% annual health inflation rule the zero growth until NHE Is <10% of GDP way.

    1. The three year congressional budget request seems to be the most efficient method of expressing social security operations to tax the rich to end poverty by 2020 by repealing the Adjustment of the contribution and benefit base under Section 230 of the Social Security Act 42USC§430 and replacing it with 'There is created in the Treasury a Supplemental Security Income Trust Fund'.

    a. Would gladly repeal the 0.9% additional HI tax on the rich under 26USC§3101(b)(2) for the privilege of repealing the Adjustment of the contribution and benefit base under Section 230 of the Social Security Act 42USC§430, to tax the rich the full 12.4% OASDI tax to create an SSI Trust Fund to end poverty in the United States by 2020.

    2. The temporary 2.37% DI rate CY 2016-2018 expires January 1, 2018. The 1.8% DI tax rate in Sec. 201(b)(1)(T) of the Social Security Act under 42USC§401(b)(1)(T) must be repealed and can be replaced for the next few years with either 2.1% DI tax, or 2.0% DI tax if OASI pays $240 billion in zero dollar damages plus 2.5% interest for the years 2009-2015.

    The Board of Trustees must stop using their uncalculated robbery of the DI Trust Fund to justify the robbery of all social security beneficiaries of the 3% annual Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) they are due. A 3% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) rule CY18 and every year thereafter inflation continues to run about 2.7% in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the OASDI Trust Fund Ratio is greater than 20% under Sec. 215(i) of the Social Security Act 42USC§415(i) is needed. However SSI beneficiaries are going for $777 CY19. To pay $777 mo. SSI a 5.7% COLA is needed, the Actuary promised a 2.7% COLA CY18, and must plan for 3% COLA to $777 SSI CY19 and 3% COLA every year thereafter to keep low-income by law social security disability and retirement benefits comfortably above the average annual 2.7% CPI inflation.

  6. AKA

    It is not your duty, patriotic or otherwise, to become informed about SS. However, knowledge is a good thing to have. Is is the duty of the employees at Social Security to give you all of your options when you file or inquire. The decision is yours. I must add that the SS employees do a great job in servicing the public. Remember they have to cut through all the misconceptions the folks have because of the fake news, fraudsters and charlatans who want you to sign up for an investment seminar only to find out what is freely provided by the SS Administration.

  7. Camille

    how about if you’ve been divorced for 20 yrs but were married for 10. I don’t know if my ex is alive or not. I had no children with him so how would I find out about that? would social security get in touch with me?

    • AKA

      No, you need to get in touch with Social Security.

  8. Lesly F.


  9. cstamey

    Please support H.R.1205. If you are a spouse and victim of the Gov Pension Offset or the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) you probably will be denied a spousal survivors benefit. Spouses who worked as educators, law enforcement, or other health/safety professionals and made equal or more than your deceased spouse will probably be victims of GPO/WEP. Ladies, if you are victims of GPO/WEP you are being punished for your income equality. 81% of GPO/WEP victims are WOMEN!
    P.S. There are many exception/exemptions to the GPO/WEP but SSA will not inform you that you quality or provide preretirement determinations so you can plan your retirement.

    • AKA

      H.R. 1205 has to do with withdrawing from the United Nations and has nothing to do with WEP. SS does not hide any exceptions to the current law and Congress is not and never will look into this matter again after it being the law for decades. Your post is so much BS.

      • AKA

        I stand corrected. H.R. 1205 in the current Congress does deal with the elimination of the WEP and GPO for payments effective with December 2017. I am amazed that there are so many co-sponsors. I apologize to cstamey and since I’m subject to the offsets, naturally I support repeal to any degree. We are now waiting for a report from the GAO as the the impact passage would have on the budget.

        • cstamey

          Regarding GPO/WEP exception/exemptions, it is up to the GPO/WEP victim to research and argue they qualify. SSA will not advocate on your behalf if you qualify for a GPO/WEP exception/exemption. If you are a victim of the GPO/WEP research if you qualify for an exception/exemption and appeal your denial. Also, as I mentioned, SSA will not provide you with a preretirement determination so you can plan for your retirement.

          AKA: thank you for the apology, but I would rather you not respond to my blogs.

  10. Mannix O.

    I was have benifits pending since 2009 last friday receive a letter need to file another appeal for judge hearing do they really go for that. But fact approve. Or just need to hire attorney and their cut. I was on intelligence coordination 911. Victim of economy when since the terrorist accomplish 911. I am full fleage veteren employer. im asking crying out loud do something i live in las vegas nevada *** – ** – **** my social security.

    • Sikirat L.

      As a senior, who has served this country in every area of endeavor l found myself, l believe it will a darn shame if dedicated citizens are deprived of their hard earned benefits, which they had labored arduously for. The country has to do its due diligence to retain its integrity. There is just no two way about it.

    • AKA

      Take your letter into your local SS office and have them explain it to you.

    • Ray F.

      Hi, Mannix. Unfortunately, but for your security, we do not have access to personal records in this venue. We encourage you to contact your local Social Security office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for further assistance and a thorough explanation.

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