Can my spouse and children collect my Social Security when I die?

By Jean Folger AAA
A:

Social Security pays four different types of benefits: retirement, disability, family and survivor. Under survivor benefits, Social Security provides income for the families of workers who die. If you die, certain family members may be eligible for survivors benefits. You have to work a certain number of years to be eligible for survivors benefits; this number depends on your age, but will never be more than 10 years of work. Like retirement benefits, the amount of survivors benefits that your family would receive is based on your average lifetime earnings. The more you have earned, the higher the benefit.

A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to your surviving spouse if he or she was living with you, or if you were living apart and your spouse was receiving certain Social Security benefits on your record. In cases where there is no surviving spouse, the one-time payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death. 

Monthly benefits are available to certain family members, including:

  • A widow(er) age 60 or older (age 50 or older if he or she is disabled)
  • A widow(er) at any age who is caring for the deceased's child who is under age 16 or disabled
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school), or 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22
  • A stepchild, grandchild, step grandchild or adopted child under certain circumstances
  • Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and
  • A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances

It is recommended to check your Social Security Statement to see an approximate amount of survivors benefits that could be paid, for more information on survivors benefits and how to apply click here.

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