Understanding Social Security Survivors Benefits

" "Unfortunately, tragedy can strike without any warning. The loss of the family wage earner can be devastating both emotionally and financially. Social Security helps by providing income for the families of workers who die.

Some of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward survivors benefits for workers and their families. The value of the survivors benefits you have under Social Security may even be more than the value of your individual life insurance. When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors benefits. These include widows and widowers (and divorced widows and widowers), children, and dependent parents.

Here are the people who can get survivors benefits based on your work:

  • Your widow or widower may be able to get full benefits at full retirement age. The full retirement age for survivors is age 66 for people born in 1945-1956, with the full retirement age gradually increasing to age 67 for people born in 1962 or later. Your widow or widower can get reduced benefits as early as age 60. If your surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50.
  • Your widow or widower can get benefits at any age if they take care of your child younger than age 16 or disabled, who is receiving Social Security benefits.
  • Your unmarried children, younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they’re attending elementary or secondary school full time), can also get benefits. Your children can get benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22. Under certain circumstances, we can also pay benefits to your stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, or adopted children.
  • Your dependent parents can get benefits if they’re age 62 or older. (For your parents to qualify as dependents, you must have provided at least half of their support.)

You can read more our publication Survivors Benefits for more information.

How much your family can get from Social Security depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the more their benefits will be. For more information on widows, widowers, and other survivors, visit our webpage.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey. Be sure to tell friends and family about our Survivors Benefits and how we can help in times of need.


166 thoughts on “Understanding Social Security Survivors Benefits

  1. I already filed my SSA survivor ship benefits and I have received the notice coming from the SSA Maryland. I am from the Philippines and I am not a US Citizen. With the COVID19 Pandemic, what are the options for beneficiaries like me?

  2. question my Husband died august 1,2012 he had retired and collecting s.s. and receiving the monthly check,i am 59 and have been wondering how when could I get death benefits of him?

  3. my husband born 1946 and I was born 1961 he passed in aug 1 2012 in California and I live in California. my question is what is it called death benefits ? survivors benefits? I know I have been denied but I a number of health issues that I am disabled (not by law judgement) but I’m still fighting for social security disable ability and infactedI just received disability benefits have been denied AGAIN. but just received stating I may be found to be medially disable by the state agency for supplemental security income benefits I have a call appointment June 15 9 a.m I hope I finial get approved.

  4. I currently receive a SS check each month of $468.00….if I die and my wife reaches age 66 & 10 months….does she receive my full check of $468.00……this is what I was told by one of your reps on the phone….but I wanted to be sure.

    Thank you,

  5. My son is long-term disabled and receives SSI benes. Sadly, his wife died this past March of pancreatic cancer. She was a nurse. He has been turned down for her full benes because they had only been married for 3 years. They went through the agony of her fight to live for almost a year. Now he will receive only 70% of her allotment. Can he file a grievance?

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