social security widow’s benefits

What Are Survivor Benefits?

Throughout our lives, as American citizens, we all pay into the Social Security system when we pay taxes. Whether we are self-employed, contract workers, or we work at a conventional job, we are all required to pay into Social Security along with our other taxes. While Social Security is most commonly known for the benefits paid out to retirees once they exit the workforce, that’s not the only purpose of the Social Security Administration. The official name for Social Security benefits is the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program. This program is in place to pay benefits to those individuals who are no longer working but who have paid into the program over the years. But, it’s also meant to assist the spouses and children of deceased individuals, and those who may find themselves unable to work due to a disability. The benefits paid out to spouses and children of the deceased are referred to as survivor benefits. 

What are Social Security Survivor Benefits?

Social Security survivor benefits are benefits that are paid to some eligible family members after a loved one has passed away. In order for the family to obtain these benefits, the deceased must have paid into the Social Security program throughout their lives. These Social Security taxes are usually deducted from paychecks at conventional jobs, or when paying taxes on the income they make from their private business or services. Not all family members qualify, and not every person who has paid into the program has available funds to be paid out after their passing.  

Roughly two-thirds of all beneficiaries of survivor benefits are widows or widowers, but in some cases, a deceased person’s parents, children, or ex-spouse may also receive these benefits. Social Security survivor benefits are calculated on a variety of factors, and these important requirements can be confusing for those just learning about them. Survivor benefits are based on a credit system, in which both the deceased and the eligible beneficiary must have accumulated the minimal number of credits to receive payment.  In order to be eligible for these benefits, both the deceased and the person entitled to receive these benefits must have worked a certain number of years, and they must have earned a certain dollar amount in order to be eligible. To learn more about the stipulations and qualifications to receive this type of social security assistance visit this website.

survivors benefits
The rules and requirements for a child, spouse, or parent of a deceased person to receive survivors benefits can be tricky to navigate. Be sure to contact the social security offices if you need assistance understanding these requirements.

Who Can Receive These Types of Benefits?

If a person has qualified to receive Social Security benefits once they retire, the likelihood that specific members of their family will be eligible for survivor benefits is very good. Below is a list of some of the requirements for an individual to apply for these payments after their loved one has passed.

  • An unmarried widow or unmarried widower who is over 60 years old. This age drops to 50 if the widow or widower is disabled. 
  • A widow or widower who is still caring for the deceased individual’s child who is under 16 years of age, or over 16 if the child is disabled.
  • A child of the deceased who is under the age of 18. This age goes up to 19 if the child is still in school. The child may also receive benefits after the age of 18 if the child has a disability that was clinically diagnosed before the age of 22. 
  • Parents of the deceased if they are older than 62 years of age, and who needed the assistance of their deceased child for more than half of their income. These individuals will not be eligible if their own Social Security benefit payments are greater than the deceased child’s survivor benefit payments. 
  • In some cases, divorced spouses, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children may be eligible for these payments. 

If you think you or a loved one may be eligible for survivor benefits, it’s best to reach out to the social security offices to ask questions to make sure you fully understand the details on obtaining survivors benefits. 


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