General, Survivors

Social Security Survivors Benefits Explained

December 16, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 1 Minute

Last Updated: December 16, 2021

Elderly man looking out the window while reviewing tabletWe are here for surviving family members when a worker dies. In the event of your death, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors’ benefits. These include widows and widowers, divorced widows and widowers, children, and dependent parents.

The amount of benefits your survivors receive depends on your lifetime earnings. The higher your earnings, the higher their benefits. That’s why it’s important to make sure your earnings history is correct in our records. That starts with creating your personal my Social Security account.

A my Social Security account is secure and gives you immediate access to your earnings records, Social Security benefit estimates, and a printable Social Security Statement. The Statement will let you see an estimate of the survivors benefits we could pay your family.

You may also want to visit our Benefits Planner for Survivors to help you better understand Social Security protections for you and your family as you plan for your financial future.

Please visit our website or read our publication, Survivors Benefits, for more information. You can also help us spread the word by sharing this information with your family and friends.


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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Comments

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  1. Pamela

    Hello

    I was marry for 30 yrs. I will be 62 soon. Since that time I got remarried but not in the US. When I did get remarried I wanted to change my last name. My SS Office told me that they don’t honor my marriage and that I am still single… until My husband comes to US and we get remarried here. . I am also single on Taxes as well. So does this mean I can file for my EX husband SS Benfits.?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Pamela. Thanks for visiting our blog. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can answer in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. . We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

       

       

      Reply
  2. Laura

    My daughter died at age 56 last March. Can I claim any benefits from her SSS even if I am not a US Citizen but my daughter was.

    Reply
  3. Frqnk

    My wife passed away at age 67, she had been receiving SS since 62 based on my SS at age 66. Am I entitled to any benitis from her SS?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Frqnk. We are sorry to hear about your loss. You are eligible to apply for survivor benefits when you reach age 60 (age 50 or over if disabled). However, there are other factors that may affect your entitlement to these benefits. You can find more information on our survivors benefits page. We hope this helps. 

       

      Reply
  4. Lori K.

    My son is 27 years old, disabled. He was declared disabled in 2005. His Dad passed away in 2019. He has been getting survivor benefits since then. My question is I know I have to report if he leaves for more than 30 days, but my question specifically is what if he leaves for one year? Keeps my address as his permanent address. He wouldn’t be moving persay, just travelling in a converted van. How would he be able to continue receiving his benefits? How would I continue to receive mine?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Lori. Thanks for visiting our blog. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can answer in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We do ask that members in our Facebook community refer to their local office on specific questions about their case. If your son cannot reach his local office, he can also call 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and ask a representative to assist you. We hope this helps. 

      Reply
  5. Nancy R.

    My spouse was drawing city retirement and small SS payments. I worked until I was 70 to draw the maximum SS payments. Will I be able to draw his retirement and my SS or will I have to give up one or the other?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Nancy. Thanks for your question. To qualify for spouse’s benefits, your spouse must be receiving retirement or disability benefits. Keep in mind that if you qualify for your own benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. Visit our Benefits Planner for more information. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  6. Christina C.

    My husband passed away 6 years ago in June. I am only 56 yrs old. I am struggling financially and I really need to know why in the world do I have to wait for any SS benefits from him until I am 60? This is rediculous because I am have some medical issues that cause me problems with working most jobs but I am not disabled enough to qualify for SSI. I need someone to sit down and explain this to me without all the government BS.

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Christina. We are sorry to hear about your loss and your situation. You are eligible to apply for widow’s benefits when you reach age 60 (age 50 or over if disabled). For more information about widow’s benefits, check out our survivors planner. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

       

      Reply
  7. Alecia T.

    I am trying to help a widow. Her husband passed away last October, all papers filed, but still no benefits from her husband’s social security. The local office says it is out of their control.
    What can be done or who to contact?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Alecia. Thanks for visiting our blog. For her security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We encourage her to continue to work with her local Social Security office. She can ask to speak to a manager on her next call or visit. We hope this is resolved soon. 

      Reply
  8. Liana Z.

    I am trying to report my uncle death because my aunt is too distraught to do so. I have the original death certificate. We are not sure if the funeral director already reported it or not. She is also wanting to know if she is eligible for any benefits or even a lump sum. Been trying to call last 2 days but the wait time is out of this world last time we waited 45 minutes and nothing. Please help me help her. Most importantly we had just applied for disability benefits for him right before he passed I did the application so that has to be cancelled as well. My aunt lost the information to get into his account. I just do not know how else to help. I guess can I go with death certificate and her information to report it and help her apply for any benefits? She is not 60 y/o yet.

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Liana. We are sorry to hear about your loss and your experience. Typically, the funeral director notifies us directly to report a death.  The Lump-Sum Death benefit of $255 (a one-time payment) may be payable upon the death of a person who has worked long enough to be insured under Social Security.  In addition, eligible family members may be able to receive monthly Survivor benefits. For more information on this, please read  our publication, How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies. Your aunt can contact to her local Social Security office for assistance. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  9. Julia A.

    I was married for almost 31 years then divorced for 21 years (I never remarried). My husband died recently and I will be receive widow’s S.S. benefit. I wonder if either our adult child or I am eligible to receive the one time death benefit of $255?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Julia. We are sorry to hear about your loss. The Lump-Sum Death benefit of $255 (a one-time payment) may be payable upon the death of a person who has worked long enough to be insured under Social Security. Only eligible family members may be able to receive the one-time payment and  monthly survivor benefits. For more information on this, please read our publication, How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies. We hope this helps. 

      Reply

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