Can you apply for survivor benefits years later and will you receive back pay?

Published: July 6, 2021

Full question: Hi. Question about survivor benefits. My mother is currently collecting SS. My father passed away in 2002. Can she still apply for survivor benefits after all this time? If so, will she get back pay from 2002 to present year? Thank you.

Hi there,

Yes, she may be able to collect a higher benefit if the survivor benefit amount is larger than her own retirement benefit amount that she is currently collecting. Survivor benefit applications cannot be made online so she should file the application with a Social Security representative, either by telephone at 800-772-1213 or at your local office. If the latter, call the 800 number to schedule an appointment.

Survivor benefits may be paid for up to six months retroactively.

Take care,
Martha

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