How Social Security Helps Families
Social Security survivors benefits help ease the financial burden that follows a worker's death. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits, too.
Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivors benefits depends on the worker's age at the time of death. It may be as little as 1-1/2 years for a young worker. No one needs more than 10 years.
Who Can Get Survivor's Benefits?
Here is a list of family members who usually can get benefits:
- Widows and widowers age 60 or older.
- Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased's child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled.
- Divorced wives and husbands age 60 or older, if married to the deceased 10 years or more.
- Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
- Children up to age 18.
- Children age 18-19, if they attend elementary school or high school full time.
- Children over age 18, if they became disabled before age 22.
- The deceased worker's parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.
A Special One-Time Payment
In addition to the monthly benefits for family members, a one-time payment of $255 can be paid to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death. If there is none, it can be paid to:
- A spouse who is eligible for benefits.
- A child or children eligible for benefits. This payment CANNOT be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.
For more information, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Administration's website.
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