Social Security Survivor Benefits
When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, certain members of the family may be eligible for survivors benefits.
Up to ten years of work is needed to be eligible for benefits, depending on the person’s age at the time of death.
Who is eligible for survivors benefits
- A widow or widower—full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60
- A disabled widow or widower—as early as age 50
- A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits
- Unmarried children under age 18 or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children
- Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
- Dependent parent age 62 or older
One-Time Death Payment
There is a one–time payment of $255 that can be made when death occurs if you have worked long enough. This payment can be made only to your spouse or child if they meet certain requirements.
When To Apply
You should apply for survivors benefits promptly, because in some cases, benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time the worker died.
How to Apply
You may apply by telephone, toll–free 1-800-772-1213 or at any Social Security office.
Information needed to apply
- Death Certificate
- Your Social Security number and the deceased worker’s number
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower
Your divorce paper, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower
- Dependent children’s Social Security numbers and birth certificates
- Deceased workers’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent years