Social Security Survivor Benefits

What are Social Security Survivor Benefits? Survivor benefits are funds payable to the surviving spouse and dependents of a worker who paid enough into the social security system during his or her lifetime. All workers pay Social Security taxes and some of that money goes toward providing these benefits for families in need.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Who Receives Social Security Survivor Benefits?

The following family  members are eligible to receive social security survivor benefits:

Widows and Widowers

  • A surviving spouse aged sixty and up
  • A disabled surviving spouse at least fifty years of age
  • A surviving spouse responsible for a child who is under the age of sixteen or a disabled child receiving social security benefits

Divorced Spouses

  • An ex-spouse at least sixty years of age who was married to the deceased for ten or more years
  • A disabled ex-spouse aged fifty and up
  • An ex-spouse caring for an eligible child
  • An ex-spouse who has remarried if that marriage happened after age sixty (fifty for disabled ex-spouses)


  • Unmarried children under the age of eighteen
  • Children under nineteen who are full-time students
  • Children eighteen and older if severely disabled before age 22


  • Parents of the deceased worker if they depended upon said worker for half or more of their income

How (and How Much) Social Security Survivor Benefits Does One Receive?

Workers pay social security taxes throughout their lives, thus earning credits toward their future social security benefits. No worker needs more than a decade of work to be eligible for these benefits. The amount the family will receive depends on the worker’s average earnings over his or her lifetime. Typically children will receive seventy-five percent of the total benefit amount and spouses anywhere between seventy-one and one hundred percent, depending upon age and aforementioned variables. A family is generally limited to receiving between one hundred fifty and one hundred eighty percent of the total benefit amount.

There is also a one time lump sum payment in the amount of $255 payable to the deceased worker’s spouse or child as long as certain requirements are met.

It is imperative to apply for benefits quickly. Often money is paid from the time of application, not from the time of death. Apply directly through the Social Security Administration Office. The following documentation will be needed: Proof of death, social security numbers for all family members, birth and marriage certificates,W-2 forms for most recent year, bank number and account number, and divorce papers if applicable.

Why are  Social Security Survivor Benefits Important?

Losing a spouse, losing a father, are two of the worst possible life events. Though no one wants to think of it, especially during such a trying time, the loss of a family’s primary wage-earner can mean disaster for the family. Just about everybody qualifies for these benefits and ninety-eight of every one hundred children are eligible for survivor benefits if a working parent dies. The Social Security Survivor Benefit Plan is there to help families suffering through these losses by providing them with a stable income thereby ensuring them a brighter tomorrow.

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