What are survivor benefits? Survivors benefits are Social Security benefits paid to widows, widowers, and dependents of deceased eligible workers.
Who is considered eligible for survivor benefits? When a Social Security eligible worker dies, the survivors may include their children, widow(er)s, and parents. Children of a deceased worker who are in elementary or secondary school and under the age of 19 are eligible for survivor benefits. A widow(er) may collect survivor benefits if they were married to the deceased worker for at least 9 months and are age 60 or older or, if younger, are caring for a child under 16 or a child with a disability. However, a disabled widow(er) only needs to be 50 years of age to receive survivor benefits. The parents of a deceased worker who have been dependent on the worker and are at least 62 years of age may also be eligible for survivor benefits.
Are survivor benefits paid the same as spousal benefits? No. Spousal benefits are based on a living spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) benefit and survivor benefits are based on a deceased spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) benefit. The maximum spousal benefit one may be eligible to receive is 50% of the other spouse’s full retirement benefit (PIA). The maximum survivor benefit one may be eligible to receive is 100% of what the deceased spouse was collecting or what they would have been collecting at the time of their death. The exact amount of survivor benefits is dependent on several variables and there are also certain minimum amounts that the SSA pays to survivors.
How do you apply for survivor benefits? The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to be notified of the death of a retiree. A funeral home usually takes on this responsibility. You cannot report a death or apply for survivor benefits online so you must do this at a SSA office or over the phone with a SSA representative.
What is a special lump-sum death payment? A $255 one-time payment will be made to a surviving spouse or child if they meet eligibility requirements. To learn more if you will receive this payment or how to receive it, contact your local SSA office.