What are the social security survivor benefits?

Losing a loved one can be devastating for any family, but even more so when you lose a spouse. Even more difficult is how the loss of your spouse can affect you financially. By applying for survivor benefits through the Social Security Administration, you can receive benefits based on the credits your deceased spouse earned by working and contributing to the Social Security program.

Who is eligible for survivor benefits?

You, as a surviving spouse, may be eligible to receive full survivor benefits once you reach full retirement age. Full retirement age depends on your year of birth. Partial benefits are also available for surviving spouses if they have not yet reached full retirement. If a surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can start as early as age 50 if their disability started before or within seven years of their spouse’s death.

If a surviving spouse is caring for a child younger than age 16 or a child who is disabled, they are eligible to receive survivor benefits at any age. Also, unmarried surviving children younger than age 18 can also apply for and receive survivor benefits.

Divorced spouses are also eligible to receive survivor benefits from their former spouse’s Social Security credits, as long as you were married for at least ten years.

There are also special conditions that may affect your eligibility for your deceased spouse’s Social Security benefits if you remarry.

How much can a survivor receive?

The amount you can receive depends on how much money your spouse made over their lifetime, and how much of those earnings were subject to Social Security payroll tax. If your spouse had not yet started receiving Social Security benefits, the amount you would receive would be more than if your spouse was already receiving benefits at the time of their death.

How do you apply for survivor benefits?

Surviving spouses and surviving divorced spouses must contact the Social Security Administration to make an appointment and apply in-person at their local office. You will need to bring the following information with you to your appointment:

  • Your spouse’s death certificate or proof of death from a funeral home;
  • Your social security number;
  • Your spouse’s social security number;
  • Your birth certificate;
  • Your marriage certificate;
  • Social security numbers for any dependent children, and their birth certificates;
  • Your spouse’s most recent W-2 or self-employment tax returns; and
  • Your bank account information to set up direct deposit payments.

The dedicated Trusts & Estates attorneys at EPGD Business Law are able to help you apply for survivor benefits and answer any questions you may have. Please call (786) 837-6787 to schedule a consultation to learn more.

*Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*