General, Online Services, Survivors

When Tragedy Occurs, Your Family Can Count on Us

April 11, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 6, 2023

Older woman comforting a young boyTragedy strikes without warning. For families who lose a wage earner, it can have a devastating financial impact in addition to the emotional one.

Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin says that Social Security touches the lives of every American, often in times of tragedy and uncertainty. It’s true. Our programs go beyond retirement and disability benefits. Social Security helps care for the surviving families of deceased entitled workers.

If you work, some of the Social Security taxes you pay now go toward survivors benefits for workers and their families. In the event of your death, certain family members — widows, widowers (including your divorced spouse), children and dependent parents — may be eligible for survivors benefits. Social Security’s survivors benefits may be more valuable than your individual life insurance.

The benefit amount your family is eligible for depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the more their benefits will be. Check your Social Security Statement to see an estimate of survivors benefits we could pay. You can create a secure my Social Security account to access your Statement anytime and see an estimate of these benefits. With a my Social Security account, you can also see an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits, and ot her important information. You can also visit our Benefits Planner to help you better understand your and your family’s, Social Security protection as you plan for your financial future.

In certain circumstances, we also make a one-time payment of $255 to your spouse or child if you’ve worked long enough. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.

For more information about how Social Security’s survivors benefits can help your surviving dependents, please read Survivors Benefits or visit our website. No one likes to think about death, but, unfortunately, it’s inevitable. When it happens, know that you can count on Social Security to be there for your loved ones.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: ,

See Comments

About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Janet J.

    I recieve ssdi and my husband recieved it too until he passed away in December 2020. My question is we have life insurance will it affect my widows benfit.

    • Vonda

      Hi Janet, we are very sorry for your loss. Receipt of life insurance will not affect Social Security widow’s benefits. Check out our If You Are The Survivor web page for additional details. We hope this is helpful.

  2. Rebecca A.

    I am wanting to know if I can apply for benfits for my 2 granddaughters? My son their father passed away 2 months ago. I have custody of the girls. Can I apply on line for that and if so where do I go to do that?

    • Vonda

      We are very sorry for your loss, Rebecca. The children may be eligible for survivor benefits if their father earned enough Social Security credits through his work. Unmarried children who are under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when a parent dies.
      To inquire about potential benefits, you will have to contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  3. Marilyn C.

    I am adopting my grandson 9 years old. Currently, he receives survivors benefits from his deceased mother (my daughter) in a separate account mandated by SS . After the adoption is completed will he continue to get his mother’s survivor benefits. His father has had his parental rights terminated by the courts.

    • Vonda

      Hi Marilyn, thanks for using our blog. Typically, the adoption of a child already entitled to benefits does not terminate the child’s benefits. For specific questions, please call your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. sellaband4digitrm

    Your content is incredible! I smile and laugh loudly at the pics you write. I’m so happy that I’ve discovered this website, and I share a range of ideas. Thank you all for your service, ingenuity, and passion.

  5. Judith K.

    How do I apply for the one time survivor benefit of $255.00? My husband passed 4 months ago.

    • Vonda V.

      We are very sorry for your loss, Judith. Please call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  6. Jack R.

    I need to add my new born so I can get extra benifits

  7. Leslie H.

    We have our two grandaughter after their mother our daughter passed away 2/2018. They live in Florida we live in Virginia. The aunt was taking care of them but can no longer care for them so we have them. She has obtained Social Security benefits for the girls. Two questions I have. First off I was told that since the girls have not lived here yet 7 months we can not get social security benefits until they have been here 7 months. The aunt send us the money when I buy things for the girls. Second question the Covid-19 stimulus money with the 500.00 will it go into each of their accounts. Third question, Our oldest granddaughter is 16 and will be 17 in July. We want to get her a car so she can start driving. Are we allowed to use SS funds for this purpose?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Leslie, thank you for using our blog to ask your questions. Please check out Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on being a Representative Payee, such as how to apply to be a payee and the proper use of the benefits.

      Please visit the IRS Economic Impact Payments Information Center to answer your questions about eligibility, payment amounts, what to expect, when to expect it and more. Hope this helps!

  8. Rhonda L.

    i am sitting in my house and cannot go anywhere because of the corona virus so i have time to read all these comments. i am 67 years old and am very concerned about leaving my daughter and two grandsons, age 18 and 19 yrs old behind. my daughter has very little income and my two grandsons are in college (online presently due to coronavirus) and have no income. luckily, they both received full scholarships for college. that is the only way they could have gone to college. none of them are eligible for the ss death benefit or the payments i am receiving from ss. the thing is, there’s nothing anyone can do about it. it is what it is, so why bitch and complain about it? and those who do receive the $255, it’s better than nothing. just be happy with what you have and thank God for what you have. complaining isn’t going to get you anywhere. do you think the ss administration cares what you think? and do you think they are going to give you more if you complain? no! so why complain? don’t be greedy!

  9. Teena L.

    What will happen to people who are on ssi

  10. michelle r.

    yes i was recieving ssdi due to a permanent back injury. my case went before the dissabilty court in 2009 the judge deemed me dissabled for life. and just recientaly i recieved a letter to report to social security for filling of a continuation of recieving benifits i did so and know find out that someone that is not even a dr. says that im not dissabled no more. i have metel in my spine and degeritive bone desease. total nerve damage in my right leg for which i cannot stand on my feet for a long period of a time also just went through breast cancer and also 100% deaf in my left ear due to a blood clot cutting of my hearing from my back surgery that lasted over 6 hrs. i need to find out my resources for a attorney to bring this once again to the court or possible just pull my court records to see where the judge filled my dissablity claim for my intire life i was placed as a life crippling injury there is no one going to hire me due to the high risk of me becoming parelized from a possible damage to back fall and causing these pins in my lower back to fracture my spine. please help im impaired for life and know unable to support myself due to the personale decides i no longer need ssdi. i pray that you can assist me on such a important issue. im also no longer married im a sole income provider and know have nothing comming into my houshold for income and no way able to support myself. contact me through email at
    thank you michelle rene kruse

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Michelle. We are sorry to hear about your condition and situation. 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 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

Comments are closed.