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. Thelma M.

    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.

  2. Art U.

    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?

    • Ann C.

      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.

  3. t

    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!

  4. tdan

    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.

    • Ann C.

      Hi. Your Social Security benefits would not affected by his income. However, if you work and receive benefits, your benefits could be affected. For more information check out publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits. We hope this helps.

  5. Tmc

    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

    • Ann C.

      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!

  6. Barry R.

    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?

    • Vonda V.

      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.

      • Donna M.

        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

  7. ManuelTyday

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  9. keith s.

    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.

  10. Martha S.

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