Though people tend to think of social security as merely a retirement program, the program also provides a source of income to families of those who die. Survivor Social Security Benefits are payouts to widows, widowers, and dependent children of those who have been eligible for social security due to an established work history and the earned Social Security credits you or your spouse have accrued. Our Social Security and injury attorneys are here to help if you have any questions.
The Basics: Receiving Benefits
You must earn credits in order to qualify for Social Security, with 40 credits being the bare minimum. This number does not inform the money amount you will receive when the time for payouts begins, all it does is determine your eligibility. In other words, you do not receive additional benefits for going over the 40 credits. On a yearly basis, individuals earn up to four credits.
If you have an established work history and have been paying into Social Security taxes, some of those taxes can go back to your family in the event of your death. Qualifying family members include spouses, children, and parents. In terms of credits required for Survivor Benefits, the number depends on your age when you die.
Similarly, if a family member like a spouse or parent dies you and your family can be deemed eligible for the same benefits, so long as the above criterion have been met. These benefits will go to you and any unmarried children you have who are under the age of 18. Additionally, under certain conditions stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children are covered.
For benefits to go to your parents, you must have been a financial provider to the extent that you have been providing at least half of your parent’s support. Also, at the time of your death, your parents must not be eligible for retirement benefits that would be higher than the survivor benefit paid out due to your death.
Finally, in the event that you are divorced, the surviving divorced spouse may get the same amount of benefits as your spouse (if you have remarried) as long as the former marriage lasted for ten years or more.
Applying for Survivor Benefits
The period after someone passes away is both emotionally and financially draining, with many issues coming together all at once. The application process for survivor benefits is another one of those issues you will have to handle. One of the reasons why is that for some claims the payment will only begin from the time you apply, and not from the date that you or your loved one died.
Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration does not process survivor benefits online at this time, so it must be done by telephone or at your local Social Security office. When you are applying you should have certain documents available including proof of death (death certificate or proof from the funeral home), your social security number and the decedent’s SSN, your birth certificate, marriage certificate if you are a widow or widower, divorce papers if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower, the SSN and birth certificate of any dependent children, the decedent’s most recent W-2 forms or federal employment tax returns, and the name of your bank and account number information.
The Percentages: Breaking Down what You Will Receive
As mentioned above, benefits are linked to the number of earned Social Security credits an individual has received. The Social Security Administration also factors in the age of the recipients at the time that payout begins. For example:
- A widow or widower who is of the full retirement age or older will receive 100 percent of your benefit amount.
- A widow or widower, age 60 to full retirement age will receive 71½ to 99 percent of your basic amount.
- A disabled widow or widower, age 50 through 59 will receive 71½ percent.
- A widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 will receive 75 percent.
- A child under age 18 (19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or disabled will receive 75 percent.
- Your dependent parent(s), age 62 or older:
- One surviving parent—82½ percent.
- Two surviving parents—75 percent to each parent.
Just like life insurance, Survivor Social Security Benefits are there to take care of you and your family in the event of death. If you need a Social Security lawyer then call us today and let us help.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!