Disability, General, Retirement, SSI, Survivors

You and Your Family May Be Eligible for Increased Benefits

September 9, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

mother and daughter using laptop onlineWe know your circumstances may change after you apply—or become eligible—for benefits. If you, or a family member, receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain life changes could entitle you to an increase in your benefit amount.

As part of our Potential Entitlement initiative, we want to help you identify where you might qualify for a higher benefit. For example, you may be entitled to higher benefits based on your own earnings record or someone else’s record. Some of the life changes that could possibly increase your benefits include the following scenarios:

  • If your spouse or ex-spouse dies, you may be eligible for a higher survivor benefit based on his or her earnings record. The death of an ex-spouse may entitle you to a higher survivor benefit even if you are already receiving a survivor benefit on another spouse. Our publication, Survivors Benefits, has additional information we encourage you to check out.
  • If you are receiving Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work and you have worked, you may be eligible for a higher retirement benefit based on your own work.
  • If your deceased adult child provided at least half of your support, you may be eligible for a higher parent’s benefit based on your child’s work history. Our publication, Parent’s Benefits, includes more information you may want to consider.

We continue to focus our Potential Entitlement initiative on people who face barriers to service. This includes our elderly population, children with disabilities, veterans, SSI recipients, and people with limited English proficiency. We are proud to say that since we started the initiative in 2017, our efforts have resulted in approximately $553 million in retroactive and total monthly increased benefits paid.

We encourage you to check out our Explore the Benefits You May Be Due page for more information on any additional benefits available for you and your family. You can use your personal my Social Security account to check your benefit and payment information – along with your earnings record. If you don’t have a personal my Social Security account, you can create one today!

Please share this information with your friends and family—and post it on social media.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

See Comments

About the Author

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

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


  1. aiesh

    My Name Is a Aiesh And I Am From Turkey i Just Read This Blog
    Very Good Blog Amazing Guide For Peoples Look And Informative look like A Professional Blog.
    Ertugrul Ghazi
    Good News Advertising

  2. morvi

    It is great points. Thanks for this.

  3. Lynda T.

    My husband is 77, retired and in poor health. He has neuropathy in his feet and hands, plus trigger fingers in both hands. He collects Social Security but it’s not enough to live on.
    Can he get disability benefits? Can I collect pay for his care?
    He cannot work and is barely functioning.

  4. Ms. R.

    I receive saw benefits. Receiving below the set amount for my age, which is 69 yrs old. I think something/ someone made an mistake. How can I check?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Ronni. 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.

  5. Not e.

    Ok I have a real question that I need help on… I make less then 1150 a month I pay 600 in rent I pay over 200 for power my phone is 80 a month my insurance on my car is 150.00 and as everyone knows cable and internet is 175 a month. I only get 48.00 a month in food stamps. I am not married. But I am twice divorced can they not take into concideration my bills and let me get extra money to cover everything I need covered. I mean I have to rob peter to pay Paul every month. And never have anything left for gas in my car each month and I have drs visits like crazy. I have Humana insurance thank God it don’t cost me anything plus Medicaid. Most all my meds are covered if not I wouldn’t be here today. I just don’t understand where is all this help social security was suppose to have gotten

    • Ann C.

      Hi. We are sorry to hear about your situation. 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.

  6. Tammey S.

    I receive SSI and even with the little raise I received, the state ends up taking that raise amount and a lot more from my food stamps! I only have $200 left after paying my bills and that’s not counting my prescriptions, 20% Medicare doesn’t pay, gas, toiletries, cleaning supplies! I don’t understand who makes these decisions but I don’t believe that they do NOT take all that into consideration or understand how hard it is to make it through a month on the little bit we get and WHAT cost of living raise? like I said earlier I received $81 more a month and my food stamps went from the $234 that was to help through covid and now they are telling me it will be $20 a month, I can’t even buy milk bread and meats on that, and of course our prescriptions cost has gone up! I think someone sitting in the government seat collecting the high dollar checks they get should try to make it on what a lot of us TRY every month! they wonder why people are depressed, well I just gave them the answer! I didn’t even mention that a lot of Medicare people don’t get dental, vision or hearing coverage! I have periodontal disease with 3 rotten teeth and I have to keep paying $3.95 for antibiotics a month because I can’t afford to get them pulled! if the infection gets in my blood stream and I die, you better bet your sweet but that my family is going public and suieing the government for NOT helping with dental, vision and hearing coverage! I have already told them plus I have a dentist that is ready to give them a letter to back this up! I think the government should get off there rear and come live in the real world and leave their bank accounts behind and then they can see what it’s really like for us Americans instead of going by rates and numbers and data they read! I think it’s horrible! so I sure hope I can claim my scripts, dr visits, copays and rent even being on SSI? oh and please feel free to pass my complaint on to one of the so called government personnel that makes these decisions for the lower class people as they sit there sleeping while they are supposed to be making ways to help Americans!

    • Jenifer H.

      I went through the same type of thing for many years. I had no idea that I was entitled to a Medicare Advantage plan until I decided to take a spam phone call & listen to someone give their presentation because I works honestly rather watch paint dry than to do that! But I’m SO glad I did! As of January 1, I now have vision & dental coverage! And I now have ZERO copays on EVERYTHING including prescriptions! I even get assistance with groceries! I promise you I thought that it was too good to be true, but it really is true! I’ve already been able to see a dentist, and I’ve now got glasses that I’ve been desperately needing for years! And I didn’t lose my Medicaid secondary insurance! It’s only the beginning of March and I’ve already reaped the benefits of no prescription copays-extra money to pay another bill, but still extra money! These are all things that social security will never tell you if you don’t ask. And then they still may not be very forthcoming with details. I encourage you to look around for Medicare Advantage Plans & see all the options that are out there!! Good luck to you!!

  7. Stephanie S.

    I’ve been reading about claiming dependents and I’m a little confused. The only money coming every month is my SSI. Would I be eligible to receive extra money for my non working/not disabled 19 year old? She turned 19 December 30th 2021. This is for the 2021 tax year.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Stephanie. Thank you for your question.  Benefits issued through our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, are based on the needs of the individual and are only paid to the qualifying person. There are no spouse’s, children’s or survivors benefits payable. You can find more information on the SSI program by visiting our Supplemental Security Income page. We hope this helps. 

  8. Debbie B.

    My niece is receiving survivor benefits when her mother died. Now she just turned 18 and she and myself received a letter telling me to pay back the funds that are left over. If I put them in an account in her name and her social security number do I need to close her account and send the funds back to social security? When we originally signed up no one said we had to have proof of spending. I was also informed that the check would be made payable to her now that she turned 18 this month which is fine. She will not graduate high school until May 2022, so it sounds like she will receive a few more checks. She will be going to college in August but I understand she will not receive any more survivor benefits after she graduates from high school. Please advise if I should go to ssa office and find out why I have to send back any of the money she has not used to this date? I am not sure how to itemize how we spend her funds in the last few years because I wasn’t told I had too, no one at ssa advised me too. Please give me direction as to how I should handle this letter about sending back anything she has saved and not spent in the last few years.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Debbie. Thanks for visiting our blog. 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.

  9. Kathy M.

    I have a very good friend she did retire at age 62 but I believe two years later she was back working Social Security was supposed to help her with getting benefits from her ex-husband but because she couldn’t find his Social Security number and he wasn’t willing to give it up they said there was nothing they can do. She is now 71 not working has health problems and looking for a job because again she contacted Social Security she found her ex-husband Social Security number he made over twice the amount she did and he’s getting good benefits but yet they told her that she is now not entitled for the spousal benefits and she gets things messed up when she’s upset but I do know that she talk to a Social Security worker in January 20 22 that worker told her she would be eligible to collect off his Social Security and get possible extra benefits and like I said the second Social Security worker she talk to you basically said that she’s not eligible for extra benefits and only like $587 more a month and her Social Security. Her ex gets around 2700 and some change I believe he retired at full retirement age saved it been married for 10 years or more been divorced for a lot more I am trying to understand why she is not eligible to collect from him more than 587.00 and not eligible for extra benefits ? Is it because it took her too long to find his Social Security number and get help and she 71 which would be full retirement age so now she’s not down from getting the good benefits that she deserved? She gets a little mixed up with contracts especially when she’s been told one thing by one person and then told another thing by another person and I don’t think she should have to contact a lawyer for this to get straightened out. Is there a form or somebody that she can talk to that will make her understand what she is able to get and not get Why ? because according to her she’s not understanding why she’s not eligible for what they thought she was going to be able to get . She is not gonna be able to get a job but yet she’s looking and I’m afraid it’s gonna kill her she does have a heart problem she’s already had one knee worked on easy other knee worked on and her feet are so bad I’m surprise she walks every day. Please send me some information so I can pass it on to her to help her I would really appreciate it thank you

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Kathy. We are sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. To be eligible for divorced spouse benefits, she had to be married to her former spouse for at least 10 years and she cannot be eligible for a higher benefit on her own record. For more information on how to qualify for divorced spouse benefits, visit our Benefits Planner: Benefits for Your Divorced Spousepage. If she has additional specific questions, she can contact her local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  10. Xia X.

    I received early retirement at 62; therefore, received a lower amount. I’m now 67. Will SSA reevaluate my monthly award now that I’m at the legal retirement age? How can I get this reevaluation done?

    • Ben Z.

      Your benefit does not get reevaluated at age 67 once you elect to receive SS benefits at age 62.

Comments are closed.