How will You Obtain Government Survivor Benefits?

Social Security survivor benefits are provided to qualified workers’ widows, widowers, and dependents. Particularly for young families with children, this benefit is essential.

You may learn more about survivors benefits on this website, which can give you a better idea of what to anticipate from Social Security in the event that you or a loved one passes away.

The Fundamentals of Survivor Benefits

Survivor benefits are paid to your family if you die. Some of the taxes you pay into Social Security go toward providing survivor benefits for you and your dependents if you are employed. Based on your salary, your spouse, kids, and parents may be qualified for benefits.

If a relative dies, you may be eligible for survivors benefits. If the deceased employee’s earnings qualify you for benefits, your family may be eligible as well. To receive benefits for their deceased person, the family had to prove that the deceased person had been employed.

Apply for Survivor Benefits

When we hear about a death, we will notify you as soon as possible. However, internet applications for survivor benefits or death reports are not accepted. You must do so by contacting the appropriate government agency.

In most cases, the funeral home will notify us of the death of the person. If you want the funeral home to complete the death certificate, you should give them the deceased person’s Social Security number.

Call 1-800-772-1213 if you need to report a death or apply for benefits. You can speak to a Social Security representative between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. You can find the phone number for your local office using our Social Security Office locator and look under Social Security Office information. The office number is the local office for your region.

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If you are not getting benefits,

You should apply for survivor benefits soon away if you aren’t already getting them because sometimes payments aren’t made backwards.

Should you be receiving benefits?

If your parents’ or spouse’s records provide the basis for your getting benefits:

  • You won’t often need to file a claim for survivors benefits.
  • Once we receive notice of death, your monthly payments will be converted to survivors benefits.
  • An automatic payment of the Special Lump-Sum Death Payment may be made.

If you are receiving disability or retirement benefits under your own name:

  • You must submit an application for survivors benefits.
  • If you qualify for a larger payout as a widow or widower, we’ll look into it.

Applicants’ Required Documents

Please choose the benefit from the list below to discover what details and documentation may be required when you apply.

  • Benefits of the Surviving Divorced Spouse or Widows/Widowers.
  • Benefits for kids.
  • Benefits from the mother or father (You must be the caregiver for a child who is under 16 or who is disabled.)
  • Bulk Death Payment
  • Benefits to Parents (Your dependency on your child at the time of their passing must have existed.)
  • Do not wait to submit your application for Social Security benefits if you do not have all of the required paperwork.

Your local Social Security office may be able to check your information online free of charge if you contact your state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Who is Eligible For Survivor Benefits?

The widowed and widowers

Benefits available to widows and widowers include:

  • At least 60 years old.
  • If incapacitated, at 50 years of age or older.
  • If they look after a deceased relative’s crippled or minor child at any age.

Widows and Widowers with divorces

There are benefits available to divorced widows and widowers:

  • If the deceased was the spouse for at least ten years, at age 60 or older.
  • If you were married to the dead for at least 10 years and were incapacitated at age 50 or older.
  • Whenever they look after a deceased person’s crippled or minor child, regardless of age.
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Kids that are not married

Children who are not married can receive benefits if they are:

  • Less than 18 years old (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time).
  • Any age if you were disabled before turning 22 and you still are.

Benefits may occasionally be given to adopted children, stepchildren, grandkids, or stepgrandchildren.

Reliant parents

Benefits are available to parents who received at least half of their child’s support and are 62 years of age or older.

One-time lump-sum payment for death

Only someone who is married or has a child will be given a one-time payment of $255. Within two years of the date of death, survivors must apply for the payment of life insurance benefits.

Early Reception of Survivor Benefits

The age of 60 will continue to be the earliest at which a widow or widower can begin receiving Social Security survivors benefits based on age.

Benefits for widows or widowers based on age can begin at any time between the age of 60 and full retirement age. Benefits that begin earlier in life are diminished by a minuscule percentage for each month that passes before the full retirement age.

The transition to one’s own retirement benefit can be made as early as age 62 or as late as age 70 if the recipient of widow’s or widower’s benefits will qualify for a retirement benefit that will be greater than their survivors benefit. The laws are complex and change depending on the circumstance. Consult a Social Security agent to learn more about your choices.

Regarding the Chart of Survivor Benefits

Based on birth year, the chart shows the entire retirement age for survivors. Examples of the age 62 survivors benefit based on an anticipated $1,000 monthly payment at full retirement age are provided.

Year of BirthFull (survivors) Retirement Age$1000 survivors benefit would be reduced to,at age 62Months between age 60 and full retirement ageMonthly % reduction
1939 or earlier65$82960.475
194065 and 2 months$82562.460
194165 and 4 months$82264.445
194265 and 6 months$81966.432
194365 and 8 months$81668.419
194465 and 10 months$81370.407
1945 – 195666$81072.396
195766 and 2 months$80774.385
195866 and 4 months$80576.375
195966 and 6 months$80378.365
196066 and 8 months$80180.356
196166 and 10 months$79882.348
1962 and later67$79684.339
  1. Use the data from the year before if the survivor was born on January 1 of any year.
  1. When determining a person’s benefit (and full retirement age) if they were born on the first of the month, we treat their birthday as if it had occurred the month before.
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Note: For retirement benefits, the complete retirement age may vary.

  1. For someone who began receiving survivors benefits at age 60, the $1,000 award would be lowered to $715.
  1. Rounding causes monthly decline percentages to be approximate. The worker’s hypothetical maximum benefit is constrained to what they would get if they were still living. Benefits for survivors beginning at age 60 are always decreased by 28.5%.

Should You Be the Surviving?

You should think about the Social Security benefits that might be available if you are the survivor that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who passes away, just as you make preparations for your family’s safety in the case of your demise. That person must have spent enough time at employment to qualify for Social Security payments.

How Your Spouse Can Receive Survivor Benefits from Social Security

Up to four credits may be earned by an employee each year. For instance, in 2022, your spouse is eligible to receive one credit for every $1,510 in salary or self-employment income. Your spouse has earned their four credits for the year once they have earned $6,040.

The number of credits required to pay survivors’ payments varies according to the worker’s age at death. A cap of 40 credits (equivalent to 10 years of employment) is needed to qualify for any Social Security benefit. However, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they need to have to qualify for survivors benefits for their family.


You must have accrued a minimum number of work credits based on your age at the time of your death in order to be qualified for survivor payments. Even though it will be reduced, a surviving spouse may be qualified for payments as early as age 60. They are qualified for all benefits if they have achieved their full retirement age. When they reach retirement age, surviving spouses can also move to their own Social Security retirement benefits, in which case the survivor benefits would end.

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