General, Survivors

Social Security Survivors Benefits Explained

December 16, 2021 • By

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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  1. Cheryl

    I’m 64 and drawing SSDI off my deceased husband. I will be 65 in 3 months, how do I find out if I can get more money going to straight SS.

    Reply
  2. KSUZ

    My husband & I are 71 & 74 & both receive social security checks on our own work history. His benefit amount is much higher than mine. If he precedes me in death, can I begin receiving a higher amount in my check?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, KZUZ. Thanks for your question. The amount of your widow’s benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of your husband, when he started receiving his benefits, your age, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit, you would be eligible for survivor benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, please visit our If You Are the Survivor page. We hope this helps. 

      Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, KZUZ. Thanks for your question. The amount of your widow’s benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of your husband, when he started receiving his benefits, your age, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit, you would be eligible for survivor benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, please visit our If You Are the Survivor page. We hope this helps. 

      Reply

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