Social Security Benefits: a Lifetime of Protections for Your Loved Ones

" "At Social Security, we know how much your loved ones mean to you—that’s why our promise of lifetime protections extends to them. When you work and pay Social Security taxes, some of your immediate family may also qualify to receive benefits on your record.

We pay benefits to:

  1. Your spouseYour spouse may be able to receive benefits on your record if they’re over age 62, or if they’re younger and taking care of a child entitled on your record who is under the age of 16 or disabled.
  2. Your ChildYour minor children may be eligible for benefits while you’re receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Grandchildren and stepchildren may qualify in certain situations. You can visit our website for kids and families or read our publication Benefits for Children for more information.
  3. Your surviving family members Our benefits help ease the financial burden on your loved ones after you die by providing monthly payments to eligible widows, widowers, children, and dependent parents. Our survivor benefits may carry even greater value than your individual life-insurance policy.
  4. Same-sex couplesYour spouse, divorced spouse, or surviving spouse of a same-sex marriage (or non-marital, legal, same-sex relationship) may also be entitled to benefits on your record. Visit our website for same-sex couples for more information.
  5. Your ex-spouse You may no longer be together, but if you’ve divorced, your former spouse who is age 60 or older (50-59 if disabled) may be eligible to receive benefits based on your record as long as other eligibility rules are met.

On our website, you can find detailed information on the lifetime protections we offer you and your loved ones. Help us spread the message by sharing this blog entry!


81 thoughts on “Social Security Benefits: a Lifetime of Protections for Your Loved Ones

  1. What is the length of start to finish time does it takes for social security to provide the complete amount do to the person age as my self am 71 years of age.

    • Hi Virginia, We are very sorry for your loss. If your husband worked long enough under Social Security, there may be benefits payable to survivors. You may be eligible for reduced widows benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled) and at any age if caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on the deceased’s record. Survivor benefit amounts are based on your husband’s earnings. The more he paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits would be. The benefits will not be established automatically, you will have to contact us. For additional information, visit our Survivors Planner.

    • Hi David. For her to qualify for spouse’s benefits on the disability record, she must be 62 years old. If she is 62 or older and qualifies for her own retirement benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay her own benefits first. If benefits as a spouse are higher than her own retirement benefits, she will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. Benefits paid to her as a spouse will not decrease the disability benefit. Visit our Retirement Planner: Benefits For Your Spouse for more information.

  2. Nice news letter/ email ….. what was not mentioned was that some people getting benefits that are not family members or spouses are also getting payments and have never contributed a dime ….. and that is WRONG ! Shame on us and Congress for allowing that !

  3. Social Security is the greatest social service program in the history of the world.
    No wonder Americans have voted the Social Security law one of the ten best laws ever passed.

    • It’s not so great when you have employees that think the money you get from social security is coming from their pockets alone. So, beware when you know something is wrong and employee make you think it’s correct. There is a boss over the local offices beyond the supervisor in the local office. Tell Tell Tell on the bad employees. They are wrong to lie and give you the wrong amount of 💰

  4. My ex-husband is a veteran.We had two children.We was married during his deployment to Vietnam.He is not married nor am l . My question is why can’t or can we ,( his children or l ) be able to have any military benefits.?? We was married while he seved.I staid home and had our first child alone while he was gone for 3 years,

  5. Once again you failed to mention that many women state and local government workers will not receive any Soc Sec retirement and/or surviving spouse benefits due to the Gov Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. After contributing to Soc Sec for 20 years, starting at age 62 was told by local SSA office for four years that I was getting a surviving spouse benefit and a regular Soc Sec retirement only to find out, when I applied at 66, that I would get neither. State and local workers are not allowed to “supplement” their retirement with an earned Soc Sec retirement, as other workers can. Repeal the GPO and the WEP, it discriminates against women!

    • The workers probably lied to you at the local office like they did me, I told the boss over the local office, because the supervisor wouldn’t listen at that local office.

  6. I say this is a good thing. I also would like to hear more about grandchildren. Because I am in custody of a grandchild I would like to know more about what I can do to help him. I think you are doing a wonderful job in keeping the social security running like it does will you let me know or send me. More information about the grandchildren and so security thank you .

    • Thank you, Robert! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. We try hard to provide the best possible service to our customers and your satisfaction is our reward.

      Under current law, Social Security can only pay benefits to grandchildren if certain conditions are met. In addition to providing for more than 50% of their support, the biological parents of the children must be deceased or disabled, or you must have legally adopted them. See “Benefits For Grandchildren” for more information.

  7. I have a question to ask. If two senior citizen get married and they are both on Disability, how will this affect their income, will it b e lowered or cut off?

  8. I do not understand why my wife is not eligible to collect spousal benefits, at the time of my death, because she is a teacher in the State of Ohio. Will someone please explain this to me?

    • Hi Rod, thanks for the question. Your wife absolutely can file for benefits on your record. However, if she is receiving a pension from a government job in which she did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of her Social Security spouse’s or widow’s benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. For additional details, check out our Government Pension Offset webpage.

  9. i need to ask for a “reconsideration” to keep from paying a useless “late enrollment penalty”. you offer all this wonderful helpful and cherrfull things and then charge me “late enrollment penalty”

  10. How long will SS permit the massive theft of taxpayer dollars by fraud??!! Most SS claims were Not well investigated from 2009 -2016! The fund has been robbed of $Billions$!!!

  11. I have been on social security for many of years. They do not pay as much as you need to survive. I like working part time. I get to where i am going working. I enjoy the money they give me but it just is not enouph. Please do more to get us more money! It is a necessity.

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  14. I understand that I apply may for my spouses death benefits. She died on 7 Nov 2018
    How do I proceed from this point forward?

    • We are very sorry for your loss, Barry. Typically, the funeral director notifies us of an individual’s passing by contacting the local Social Security office. To verify this information was reported, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or you can contact your local Social Security office directly.

      See our Factsheet on How Social Security Can Help When a Family Member Dies.

      • I have worked off and on for yrs. But I was a stay at home mom of 4 children I’m going to say about 8yrs ago I started having my medical problems we didn’t have medical insurance for awhile we just lived pay check to pay check I have filled disability 3 time and always turned down so I give up I can’t do any kind of work now sense the surgery on my foot it’s a mess and swell’s so bad I can’t get my shoe on house shoes works I’ve had a minor stroke and my balance is off speach could be better anyway I could go on but my husband got me medical insurance so at least I can get something done my husband is 61 been fighting lung cancer 3 &1/2 yrs he was a truck driver and no more work we now try and do our best to make it on 20.066 yr disability I guess I’m just trying to figure out what or where I can get help I’ve been reading about spouses and SSI or file for my SS be thank you for your ear

  15. I have no choice but to take my SS at age 63, and that will be this April 5th. How many days in advance should I go to the SS office to apply? And how long will it be until the first check is mailed out? Thank you

    • Hi. Our system is set up to take applications four three four months in advance. When you are ready to apply, you can do it online here. Once you’ve applied, your benefits will be paid the month after the month they are due. If you have any additional questions about your specific case, please call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Thanks!

  16. Hello. My spouse and I live in separated homes. He’s still on the deed to the house I live in. His income is high and I have barely any income. If I take social security two years sooner than my full retirement age, will part of my ss check be cut in half due to his high income? Thanks for your help.

  17. Hello. My spouse and I live in separate homes. He’s on the deed to the home I live in. His income is high, and I barely have any money. If I take my social security early, will the check that I would receive for $600 be reduced due to his income, or would I still receive a check for the full amount of $600? Thanks for your help!

  18. My son was killed by a drunk driver and he leaves behind two sons ages 2 and 4 years and 3 step sons. Do all five recieve benefits or just the two?

    • Hi, Art. We are sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for your question. There is a possibility all could receive benefits if all eligibility factors are met. You can find more information on how children can qualify for survivors benefits when a parent dies by reading our publication, Benefits for Children. For additional specific questions regarding your grandchildren, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or you can contact your local office. We hope this helps.

  19. When I was frist notified that I could get my disability benefits as of the time of there call, I was told that if I would agree to taking the benefits of only one of my two jobs the judge would sign the order that day. It was a very stuff time for me living on welfare trying to raise my grandson i felt i had to take the offer (even though I felt it was very unfair to take my other benefits away from me that I worked so hard for most of my life.). I was not told that I would never get any benefits from my other job so I thought I would at least get those benefits when I reached retirement age! Could you explain to me why I won’t get them and why this is not illegal for social security to steal my money like that. I hope to hear from you. Thank you.

  20. Hello. What questions are asked to apply for Social Security benefits online? Will I need a bank account number? Will I need to have a copy of my social security card and birth certificate sent to ss office somehow? I have no printer/scanner. Thank you


  22. I am trying to get some information about a student loan i didn’t know i have/had ! I call and call and all i get is an answering machine that tells me the Social Security office is closed! Am i dialing the right numbers?
    1.800.772.1213 and 1.800.944.0795 ! Thank you

  23. I think it is a darn shame that no one mentions the WEP offset. This Offset takes 50% of my previously earned social security benefits from me each and every month without a real reason. Its excuse in the beginning was that we, who worked for our state governments received a pension. But our pensions were very small, it doesn’t mention that fact. I think its a shame the way social security puts advice out there but hides the fact that they are taking, or ‘stealing’ earned benefits from those of us who worked for the states that did not pay into social security. They need to begin admitting the fraudulent offset that was perpetrated on unsuspecting state employees beginning from 1983 to the presewnt. They owe many of well over $100,000 as of this date. Before they can guide others, maybe they better clean up their act first.

  24. I am 60 years of age and receiving disability social security benefits. My question is, what will happen in the case of my death? will my wife continue to receive my check? Thank you for your anticipated response.

  25. cannot sign in with current username and password do I have to create a new my social security account..Sueann k lawton
    trying to check for claim info of my deceased husband

  26. Your spouse may be able to receive benefits on your record if they’re over age 62, or if they’re younger and taking care of a child entitled on your record who is under the age of 16 or disabled.<< I need to have clarified is that the part where it says about taking care of a child entitled on your record who is under the age of 16 or disabled now the disabled part would that be the child being disabled or the spouse is disabled

  27. they did not tell us what was going on .the people asked me if i was ready to go. i was like where am i going.

  28. What are the qualifiers for a remaining spouse to receive Social Security payments in the event of one’s death,
    and deceased also having an x spouse ?

  29. I am currently permanently disabled and collecting SSDI. I have also received a notice that my retirement age comes up in 2 months and I will be receiving some amount less than SSDI for retirement from the SSA. Will I be getting 2 checks now?

    • Hi, Matthew. Thanks for your question. You will only receive one benefit. Once a person reaches their full retirement age, we automatically convert their disability benefits to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. An individual’s full retirement age is determined by their year of birth. If you have specific questions regarding your benefits, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps!

  30. I am approved for disability by a law judge and I have a family of four and still don’t receive my benefits?? What do I do?

  31. It caught my attention when you talked about how spouses over 62 years of age may be eligible to receive their partner’s social security benefits. My husband needs to meet with a social security attorney so he can apply for disability due to his digestive disorder. I’m glad I read your article so we can discuss the info you shared here with the attorney we end up choosing!

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