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

February 14, 2019 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

" "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 parents and guardians 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!

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About the Author

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner


  1. Arthur H.


    Art Hugo

  2. CarolS

    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!

    • Diana W.

      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.

  3. Linda L.

    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,

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Linda, thank you for using our blog. For questions about military benefits, contact the Veterans Administration at or 1-844-698-2311.

  4. Kenneth S.

    Very good ,useful information I did not know about

  5. James M.


  6. Mel A.

    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.

    • Diana W.

      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 ?

  7. Jeff G.

    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 !

  8. David

    What if the head of household is on disability can the spouse get benefits and she is working.

    • Vonda V.

      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.

  9. Virginia C.

    I would like to know if I am entitled to my deceased husband benefits???

    • Vonda V.

      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.

    • Diana W.


  10. Herman S.

    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.

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