General, Online Services, Retirement

Planning Now Cuts Back on Future Uncertainty

May 12, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: May 12, 2016

 a couple sitting together on a sofa looking at their mySocialSecurity accountAn old saying tells us that death and taxes are the only guarantees in life. While we know it’s inevitable, death is not something we like to think about. The loss of a loved one is overwhelming. It can leave you devastated, uncertain of what steps to take.

This is especially true when you lose a spouse. The death of a spouse is devastating emotionally, physically, and financially.

Social Security survivors benefits protect your surviving spouse if you die. Your widow or widower can receive reduced benefits as early as age 60 or full benefits at full retirement age or older. If your surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50 as long as the disability started before or within seven years of your death.

As the widow of a deceased worker, your surviving spouse can get benefits at any age if she or he takes care of your child who’s receiving Social Security.

We also make a one-time payment of $255 when you die if you’ve worked long enough. We can only pay this benefit to your spouse or child, if they meet certain requirements. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.

Survivors benefits are an earned benefit, but you may wonder how much your surviving spouse can receive. The amount of benefits your surviving spouse will get from Social Security depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the more their benefits will be. You can learn more about this earned benefit by visiting our Survivors Planner: Survivors Benefits For Your Widow Or Widower.

You can also check your Social Security Statement to see an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits and the survivors benefits we could pay along with other important information.

Death is unavoidable, but planning ensures some protection for your surviving spouse. For more information, please read Survivors Benefits.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Wayne L.

    This is something we need to think about “Planning Now Cuts Back on Future Uncertainty”, BTW thank you so much for this information.





  3. RMAU

    I don t think we should cut anything from are military it the one who defends the U.S and all its people. I belive it s one thing we should leave out of cutting back on !!! What are we guna do with a military that doesn t have what it needs !!! I belive if this happens it s the start of a major upset.

  4. Chupacabras

    I don’t think we should cut anything from are military it the one who defends the U.S and all its people. I belive it’s one thing we should leave out of cutting back on !!! What are we guna do with a military that doesn’t have what it needs !!! I belive if this happens it’s the start of a major upset.

  5. Patricia H.

    I’ve been trying since 2013 to get disability. they keep turning me down.its my body I know how I feel.I’m limited to what I can do.I hurt all the time.I know what I can and can’t do.I’ve worked most my life.I’m trying to get help but I haven’t yet.

  6. tony

    Most of the SSA OIG investigation are people collecting a deceased family member’s social security.

  7. tony

    $255 for the spouse. No wonder they are not reporting that their spouse is dead and collecting their spouse’s social security. They will probably only get probation when they are caught and die before they ever pay it all back.

    • Marc

      Stealing, federal offense, fraud, criminal – any of those words ring a bell? Collecting benefits for a dead person is all of those things, and FISHONEST, as well. Boy, you’ve certainly shown us all what kind of person YOU are.

      • tony

        I am all for sending those people to jail. They should bring back the chain gang. They should be shackled and made to work.

        They should do it to the people on welfare and SSI who commit fraud because they never worked a day in their life.

  8. Steve B.


  9. Leslie

    Well, I’m considered disabled due to muscular skeletal disease, degenerative disc disease on cervical and thoracic spine, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, sjogrens syndrome, which involves a major organ, and severe clinical depression and ptsd. I would say that is enough of a disability.

    I still would appreciate an answer to my question if possible.

    • Marc

      IT’S IN WRITING IN BLACK AND WHITE RIGHT HERE ON THIS WEBSITE!!! How lazy are you, anyway that you can’t be bothered to LOOK IT UP??? It lists EVERY SINGLE condition and every single thing they require and consider for every condition, in incredible detail. Pages and pages, all there for you, you can even download it all to your computer to read at your leisure, or even print it out! You can order the brochures to be mailed to you FREE! OMG, you people are priceless. If this level of intelligence is indicative of where society is headed, we’re doomed.

  10. Paul S.

    Per SSA rule what condition of one’s body is called disability?
    American Employers consider diabetes is a disability.

    • R.F.

      Hi Paul. You may find our listing of impairments useful. The Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. To learn more about the process we use to decide if you are disabled under our rules, visit our Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled. Thanks!

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