Social Security Survivors Benefits

When an individual who is insured under the Social Security system dies, certain survivors are entitled to receive benefits. These are called Social Security Survivors Benefits.

In order for this benefits program to apply, the deceased must have earned enough Social Security credits. You can earn up to four credits each year. For example, in 2019 you earn one credit for each $1,360 of earnings. When you have earned $5,440, you have earned your four credits for the year.

The number of credits needed to provide Social Security Survivors Benefits depends on your age when you die. No one needs more than 40 credits (10 years of work) to be eligible. However, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they must have for family members to receive Survivors Benefits.


Who can receive Social Security Survivor Benefits?

(1)  A surviving spouse who was married to the decedent for at least nine months can receive Survivors Benefits:

(a) at age 60, or

(b) at age 50, if you are disabled and the disability occurred within seven years of your spouse’s death, or

(c) at any age, if you are caring for the decedent’s child who is under the age of 16 or who is disabled.

(2)  A divorced spouse can get benefits the same as a widow or widower if the marriage lasted ten years.

(3)  A child of the decedent can receive Survivors Benefits who is:

(a) under the age of 18 and unmarried, or

(b) between the age of 18 and 19, is a full time student in high school, and unmarried, or

(c) 18 or older with a disability that began before the age of 22.

Other regulations to be aware of.

(1)  You will not receive Social Security Survivors Benefits AND retirement benefits. Social Security will pay the higher of the two amounts.

(2)  If you are working, your Survivors Benefits may be affected by the Social Security earnings limit.

(3)  It does not matter if you worked long enough to qualify for Social Security on your own. Survivors Benefits are based on the decedent’s work record.

(4)  If you remarry after the age of 60, or after 50 if disabled, the marriage will NOT affect Survivors Benefits.

(5)  A one-time death benefit payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if you were living with the decedent.

It is not possible to address all of all Survivors Benefits regulations in a single article. If you have questions concerning Survivors Benefits, you can contact me for a free phone consultation by clicking here – Contact a Disability Attorney.

Social Security Survivors Benefits

Disability Attorney David R. Paletta