Social Security Benefits for Survivors

When people pass away, there are circumstances where their close family members may have access to their Social Security benefits as survivors of the deceased. But what counts as a “survivor”? To be a survivor of a deceased worker, the individual would have to be the decedent’s surviving spouse, child, or parent. Plus, the deceased must have worked long enough for their survivors to qualify for benefits under their work record.

Under the Social Security program, workers can earn up to four credits each year. When someone earns $5,440, they have earned four credits for the year. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the number of credits someone needs for survivor benefits depends on the age of the worker when he or she dies.

However, no one has to have more than 40 credits, which is 10 years of work, for them to be eligible for a Social Security benefit. The younger a worker is, the fewer credits they need to have earned for their family to be eligible for survivors’ benefits.

When Do You Notify the SSA of a Death?

If your loved one has died, the SSA wants to be notified as soon as possible. “Can I report a death online?” No, you cannot. The SSA requires that survivors report a death by calling the SSA directly. In most situations, the funeral home reports the worker’s death to the SSA.

If you want the funeral home to make the report for you, you should give them home your loved one’s Social Security number and they can report the death to the SSA promptly.

Who may receive survivors’ benefits?

  • A widow or widower who is 50 or older if they are disabled;
  • A widow or widower who is 60 or older;
  • Under certain circumstances, surviving divorced spouses;
  • Widows and widowers of any age who are caring for the decedent’s child who is disabled and receiving benefits on the decedent’s record, or who are under the age of 16;
  • Unmarried children of the deceased worker who are under the age of 18, or up to 19 if they are full-time students in an elementary or secondary school; or
  • Unmarried children who became disabled before the age of 22.

Under some circumstances, stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and parents age 62 or older who depended on their deceased son or daughter for at least half of their support may be eligible for survivors’ benefits. To learn more about disability or survivors’ benefits, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC today.

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