Survivors Benefits | SSA (2024)

Social Security survivors benefits are paid to widows, widowers, and dependents of eligible workers. This benefit is particularly important for young families with children.

This page provides detailed information about survivors benefits and can help you understand what to expect from Social Security when you or a loved one dies.

The Basics About Survivors Benefits

Your family members may receive survivors benefits if you die. If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of those taxes you pay are for survivors benefits. Your spouse, children, and parents could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings.

You may receive survivors benefits when a family member dies. You and your family could be eligible for benefits based on the earnings of a worker who died. The deceased person must have worked long enough to qualify for benefits.

For more information, please read How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies.

Apply for Survivors Benefits

You should notify us immediately when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

In most cases, the funeral home will report the person’s death to us. You should give the funeral home the deceased person’s Social Security number if you want them to make the report.

If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can speak to a Social Security representative between 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can find the phone number for your local office by using our Social Security Office Locator and looking under Social Security Office Information. The toll-free “Office” number is your local office.

If you are not getting benefits

If you are not getting benefits, you should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive.

If you are getting benefits

If you are getting benefits on your spouse's or parent's record:

  • You generally will not need to file an application for survivors benefits.
  • We'll automatically change any monthly benefits you receive to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death.
  • We may be able to pay the Special Lump-Sum Death Payment automatically.

If you are getting retirement or disability benefits on your own record:

  • You will need to apply for the survivors benefits.
  • We will check to see whether you can get a higher benefit as a widow or widower.

Documents You Need to Apply

Please select the benefit you will be applying for from the list below to see what information and documents you may need when you apply:

If you don't have all the documents you need, don't delay applying for Social Security benefits.

In many cases, your local Social Security office can contact your state Bureau of Vital Statistics and verify your information online at no cost to you. If we can't verify your information online, we can still help you get the information you need.

Mailing Your Documents

If you mail any documents to us, you must include the Social Security number so that we can match them with the correct application. Do not write anything on the original documents. Please write the Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper and include it in the mailing envelope along with the documents.

Related Information

Survivors Benefits | SSA (2024)


Who qualifies for survivor benefits? ›

For benefits purposes, we consider a survivor to be the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. That person must have worked long enough under Social Security to be eligible for benefits.

How much are survivor benefits per month? ›

According to the Social Security Administration, the average survivor benefit paid in December 2023 was $1,501.60 per month.

What does a widow get when her husband dies? ›

If you claim widow benefits at full retirement age, you can receive 100% of your deceased spouse's retirement benefit. In other circ*mstances, Social Security determines the percentage you can claim based on various factors, including your age, whether you have a disability, and whether you care for any dependents.

Who receives any survivor benefits? ›

If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of those taxes you pay are for survivors benefits. Your spouse, children, and parents could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings. You may receive survivors benefits when a family member dies.

How long does a spouse get survivors benefits? ›

However, even if you lived apart when your spouse died, you might still be eligible for the death benefit if you already receive spousal benefits. Survivor benefits are usually paid for life, so it's worth taking the time to estimate your monthly amount.

What is the difference between widow benefits and survivor benefits? ›

The short version: Spousal benefits are available to retired workers' spouses or ex-spouses. They pay up to 50% of a worker's monthly retirement or disability benefit. Survivor benefits are paid to a surviving spouse or surviving ex-spouse when a Social Security beneficiary dies.

What disqualifies you from survivor benefits? ›

1. Widowed Spouses and Former Spouses Remarrying Early: Widowed spouses and former spouses who remarry before age 60 (or 50 if they are disabled) become ineligible for survivor benefits. However, if the later marriage ends, eligibility can be reinstated.

How long does a widow get her husband's Social Security? ›

Widows and widowers

These benefits are payable for life unless the spouse begins collecting a retirement benefit that is greater than the survivor benefit. Beneficiaries entitled to two types of Social Security payments receive the higher of the two amounts.

Who gets $250 from Social Security when someone dies? ›

A surviving spouse, surviving divorced spouse, unmarried child, or dependent parent may be eligible for monthly survivor benefits based on the deceased worker's earnings. In addition, a one-time lump sum death payment of $255 can be made to a qualifying spouse or child if they meet certain requirements.

At what age do survivor benefits stop? ›

If a child has a parent who works enough to earn Social Security in retirement and passes away, the child is eligible for survivor benefits. The child can receive payments until they turn 18, with two exceptions. First, if the child is still finishing high school, they can receive payments until 19.

How do I get the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›

There's really no “bonus” that retirees can collect. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a specific formula based on your lifetime earnings to determine your benefit amount.

What Social Security benefits does a widow receive? ›

Surviving spouse, full retirement age or older—100% of your benefit amount. Surviving spouse, age 60 to full retirement age—71½ to 99% of your basic amount. A child under age 18 (19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or has a disability—75%.

How does a spouse qualify for survivor benefits? ›

In most cases, a widow or widower qualifies for survivor benefits if he or she is at least 60 and had been married to the deceased for at least nine months at the time of death.

Do all spouses get survivor benefits? ›

If your spouse died, you could qualify for survivor benefits if: You were married to the deceased person for at least nine months. You are at least 60 years old, unless you are disabled or caring for the deceased person's child, who is under age 16 or disabled.

Can I get both my Social Security and survivor benefits? ›

If you qualify for your own retirement and spouse's benefits, we will always pay your own benefits first. If your benefit amount as a spouse is higher than your own retirement benefit, you will get a combination of the two benefits that equals the higher amount.

Can you be denied survivor benefits? ›

If you or the insured worker was granted a tax exemption as a member of a religious group, whose members oppose insurance plans such as Social Security, you may not be eligible for survivor benefits. If you are eligible, your benefits may be smaller (See §1128.);

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