When Tragedy Occurs, Your Family Can Count on Us

Older woman comforting a young boyTragedy strikes without warning. For families who lose a wage earner, it can have a devastating financial impact in addition to the emotional one.

Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin says that Social Security touches the lives of every American, often in times of tragedy and uncertainty. It’s true. Our programs go beyond retirement and disability benefits. Social Security helps care for the surviving families of deceased entitled workers.

If you work, some of the Social Security taxes you pay now go toward survivors benefits for workers and their families. In the event of your death, certain family members — widows, widowers (including your divorced spouse), children and dependent parents — may be eligible for survivors benefits. Social Security’s survivors benefits may be more valuable than your individual life insurance.

The benefit amount your family is eligible for depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the more their benefits will be. Check your Social Security Statement to see an estimate of survivors benefits we could pay. You can create a secure my Social Security account to access your Statement anytime and see an estimate of these benefits. With a my Social Security account, you can also see an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits, and ot her important information. You can also visit our Benefits Planner to help you better understand your and your family’s, Social Security protection as you plan for your financial future.

In certain circumstances, we also make a one-time payment of $255 to your spouse or child if you’ve worked long enough. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.

For more information about how Social Security’s survivors benefits can help your surviving dependents, please read Survivors Benefits or visit our website. No one likes to think about death, but, unfortunately, it’s inevitable. When it happens, know that you can count on Social Security to be there for your loved ones.


137 thoughts on “When Tragedy Occurs, Your Family Can Count on Us

  1. In certain circumstances, we also make a one-time payment of $255 to your spouse or child if you’ve worked long enough. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.

    I have no spouse and my children are grown. Can the $255 be used for my funeral expenses?

    • I seem to remember when my mother passed away back on 1983, I was unable to receive the survivor benefit because I was 29 years old. I think the child has to be a minor in order to receive that benefit. And no, I was not able to use the survivor benefit towards funeral expenses.

      • The $255 is usally applied for and received by the funeral home or crematorium. Frequently, family members do not realize that this transaction took place.

        • That comment is without factual basis. In the early 1980’s Reagan and O’Neill trimmed many entitlements. The lump sum payment was no longer payable to the funeral home directly nor to the person paying for the funeral. Only an entitled widow(er) or child(ren) are eligible. Misinformation only serves to add to the time SSA needs to properly serve the public, which takes away time from others. Factual information is available from the agency instead.

          • outstanding mr ray Fernandez. I kew about tht when my moms past away a year and half ago. I like the way you help people on the web site, keep up the good work. ret.usmc/army ralph fernandez

    • $255 is an insult to anyone that has lost a love one. What can you do with that small amount of money? Absolutely nothing.

      • They don’t owe you anything. What cheek you have to criticize because you think the government handing over a check for $225 “isn’t enough???” The only “insult” here is that I’ll bet you’re one of those people who complain about “welfare cheats” and disabled people whom you think are “faking” because they’re “too lazy to work” taking “your tax dollars.” Your comment is disgusting.

        • My husband recently died and his cremation was over 5,000 dollars. I do have to agree that 255 dollars doesn’t go far. If a burial, casket etc is added it would be well over 7 or 8 thousand.

        • I have paid into SS all my life and I will not get it all back. SS should cut a check when that person retires for what they have paid in. Instead they give your money to other people. Does not make sense. So SS owes everyone a lot. Also people have a right to complain about that little check that they receive every month. Should be a lot more.

      • I agree with you, $255.00 is a slap in the face. For all of the social security taxes a person pays year in and year out this is the answer? Let’s face it, with the elected officials running this country now we are being laughed at.

        • Social Security is NOT a burial benefit, that is NOT what it is meant for. It’s a RETIREMENT and DISABILITY benefit. You are all complaining about them for something that they are not responsible for. If you want someone to pay you a benefit to cover burial expenses there are things called INSURANCE POLICIES meant specifically for that.

      • YOu expect taxpayers to pay for your funeral at $7000 to start? My would that take off from those who receive living benefits!

      • Buy son flowers. This people don’t fill shame to public this ?. In 1992 they paid $150 and to day, after 24 years the only raise $100. and the top of that, they said “We protect your family”. BigGGG protectioon!.

        • You are giving out misinformation. The lump sum has been $255 since it began. I worked for SSA from 1976 to 1986 and it’s always been $255.

    • I lost my father January 14, 2014, and when I went to see if I could collect the $255, I was told since I’m not a dependent child I will receive nothing. It says, spouse or child, not a dependent child. This is the biggest rip off I have ever seen. Even if I can’t get it then send it to finish paying off his funeral bill that I owe 176.00 for the past 2 years. I barely make enough to pay what bills I have now.

  2. Does my wife apply for my monthly payments if i die. And also apply for hers. She is 62
    I am retired and receiving SS monthly payments. I am 65 this year.

    • Go to the Social Security office very soon. Government is changing/or has changed this benefit. She can draw on your SS, then at 70 switch over to hers, if it pays more. She can only take one yours or hers. I’m not a lawyer but have read about this in several sources. Don’t wait, when the law goes into effect, you lose.

    • Thank you for your question Mr. Ambrose. If your wife already receives benefits as a spouse, under your record, her benefit will automatically convert to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death. If a person already receives retirement benefits on his or her own record, they can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the retirement benefit they receive is less than the benefits they would receive as a survivor.

  3. I was wondering what is the most important thing to do to keep our SS Dept strong and stable as I am a disability recipient. And would like to try to help in any way possible to keep sococial security strong for a long time to come

  4. When my husband died last year, I was told that I did not qualify for survivor benefits because I earned too much money. I don’t have any children at home and I still have a few years before I retire. So I guess all those years he paid in doesn’t help me at all.

  5. When I was a young person I walked into the SS office for my first sSocial Security card thinking I would not be back for another 40 years or more. A short time later my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away. I learned quickly the value of Social Security survivor benefits. It helped my family keep its head above water.

  6. The $255.00 death benefit amount has been the same for decades. Are there any plans to update this benefit amount to reflect a COLA for the time that has passed?

  7. All the RED tape, what needs to be done is the SS dept should alert everyone about the Death Benefits and not just tell everyone about the $255 bucks, but to place the rules upfront so that people can calculate what will happen if the day comes. So this way people can start planning and know what SS dept can do or not do for them if the love one is called to the bye n bye….. SS Dept why don’t you just let us know the rules your workers look at now !!! This way we know what we can or can not ask…..

    • Um, they DO tell you, everything you could ever need to know and more – it’s all right here on this website, to make it convenient for you 24/7. What more do you think they should/can do??? How tough is that – after all, you’re here now. Take a little responsibility for yourself. Why does everyone seem to expect someone else to wipe their noses for them? What a spoiled, selfish society we’ve become. It boggles the mind.

      • Hey, Marc, how are you? This is just my observation, some people may not have the same grasp on the terminology as others, or perhaps there is a language barrier that prevents them from fully understanding their benefits. Whatever the case may be, we are talking about people who have suffered a loss, (hence the title “When Tragedy Occurs…”). Do you think you could replace the sarcasm with a little compassion? I don’t think you would speak to these people the same way if they were standing in front of you.
        I’m not sure why you’re so angry but I’m pretty sure it isn’t the fault of anyone on this site. I will include you in my prayers in the hope that you find some peace.

        • Lisa, what an awesome reply to Marc. You must be a very special person to have the compassion and insight, and grace, that you just exhibited with your comment. God bless you and yours.

  8. What’s 250 when it costs 10000 to bury someone is this joke?
    Maybe don’t bail out the banks in 2008 and every one could get a free burial, mr Obama!

  9. The surviving spouse may still receive spousal SS benefit. If the spouse is earning greater than $15,700 then the spouse will have to pay more to SS, but that excess applies to spouse’s SS earnings which will increase her/his SS benefit at retirement. Make appointment and visit SS. Make sure to tell them that you want survivor benefit and not your own.

  10. no thats no fare my husband pass and I am retired but work part time and I am getting some of his but when I get a rise for working they don’t give it to me without taking it off his. that whole business they are doing is wrong. you need to contact AARP and get them to fight for you.

    • You will be able to keep all of your earnings and his SS when you reach SS retirement age. Sorry, I don’t know when that is for you, for me it was when I turned 65.

      • I went to the SS office because very soon I will turn 66, and what the clerk told me is that I need to select mine because is higher than my husband’s (whom already pass away) she never mentioned that I can select his, and that at my full retirement age, that honestly I do not know what age is that, I can switch to mine, I am planning to continue working, but she also mentioned that I need to have an income not greater than $15,700!! who can live in California with that!
        Was the information I receive in the SS office correct?

        • Maria you can select his if you want even though it is lower and switch to your own at age 70 which would give you what is called delayed retirement credits adding a percentage for each year between 66 and 70 where you did not draw on your own. You can use this chart to figure out what the additional amount would be at age 70. Please note that as you continue to work that can also result in an increase to your own benefit regardless of your age as recalculations will be done.

        • Hi Maria, if you were born between 1/2/1943 and 1/1/1955, your full retirement age is 66 years. You can work while you receive Social Security retirement (or survivors) benefits, but if you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, your earnings may reduce your benefit amount. For 2016, the yearly limit is $15,720. See our “Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working” for more information.
          In some cases, a widow can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate. Please continue working with your local office if you have specific questions about your situation, or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for assistance.

  11. What is it with this “all about me – government should give me a hand out mentality”? We should all be responsible for planning for our own funeral expenses, whatever they may be. I understand that $255 death benefit isn’t a great deal of money, but why should anyone think they are entitled to that let alone full funeral expenses paid by Social Security?
    Grow up and take responsibility for yourself people!

  12. Apparently, it is National check your statement day. It would more appropriately named national don’t check your statement day. The website is down and SSA will not print one for you through the 1-800 number. You go Obama.

  13. In 2010 a person pulled out from a side street and I hit her vehicle all down the drivers side . I was on a motorcycle and she was driving on a suspended DL. Haven’t been able to work since then . I was airlifted from the scene and taken to the med , where I spent the next two months. My med bill at the time of release was almost 500,000. I have been turned down for disability for the second time now . How am I supposed to live the rest of my life ?

    • I was denied 4 times for disability and then I got my lawyer after a couple of surgeries and a year off of work to appeal before a SS appeals judge and got it through. Of course the lawyer gets his share, but at least I got some for that year. Then when I was disabled for good 10 years or so later it went straight through when I jumped through their hoops of getting an exam by their doctors. Didn’t you get a lawyer for your accident?

  14. I am disabled since the last few years and I am now age 62. My husband is 70. Does anyone know if there is something I need to do to collect my full amount at age 66? What happens with spousal benefits and would I be eligible along the way?

    • You failed to say if you are drawing a benefit now. In order to get disability on your own work record you have to prove you became disabled before you were last insured, generally you would have worked 5 of the 10 years before onset. Check with SSA before the end of the month.

    • YOu need to GO TO the SS office before April 30, 2016 because you will lose benefits of spousal benefits if you qualify. YOu need to discuss it with them I think one of you has to have delayed taking benefits at the time of eligibility to qualify for the spousal benefits, but those benefits disappear at the end of this month.

  15. With all the money Our Great Government wastes We could All have Funeral Expenses paid in full from the Taxes, etc. We have paid. And No im not one of those that puts my hand out for anything. I struggle to survive on my own hard work. It just amazes me about the so called Death Benefit! That is a joke!

    • The benefit was established when SS started and the amount has never been updated. Is there some reason the government needs to bury you? Buy life insurance.

  16. Benefits,Social Security,It is a hard earn Money.Death benefits for the loved one $255,it is an Insult on Human being,left behind.Worked,payed taxes.No Raise.on cost of leaving.Gas is Cheep,Does that account that every Retired person has in mind,every day?How about,the fact,Medication,Health insurance,car insurance,food Prices are Up.Did anyone In our Government research these facts?Medicaid recipient have many incentives ,free! Does these facts,compare to the Retired Seniors? Or do we need more equality and respect here.

  17. Social Security DOES NOT take care of the survivors. My husband became disabled and was approved for disability in June, but we had to wait 6 months to receive the benefits. We were barely able to survive on my paycheck, and he passed away 15 days before he was to receive his benefits, and yes, the benefits just disappeared. In order for me to collect on his disability, he had to have had collected his first check, which hadn’t come yet. He worked all his life and paid into social security, as have I. Neither of us were EVER recipients of welfare. It was HIS money, and now I am dealing with all the hospital bills and funeral expenses. Social Security Administration bets that you will die before you receive your benefits, and it happened. $255 isn’t much for his life.

  18. I have had Muliple Sclerosis for 16 years and started working at 16 years old. Went to college, earned a degree to become a Chef. Became a Chef managing 60 cooks serving 30,000 meals a day. I have two children: 6 years old (ADHD) and a 2 year old (Speech Delay). They currently receive benifits because mommy is sick and for that, I am grateful SSA helps take care of my babies when I can no longer. In the back of my mind, I thought my boys wouldn’t receive any benefits once I pass on..
    They have a long way to go before they reach 18 years old. Would they receive any help after that age, or before that age if my condition should make a turn for the worst?
    Does SSA assist with life insurance?
    I’m only 34 and never really thought cremation or buriel costs. Want to make sure my boys won’t struggle when I’m gone.

    • SS does not pay for life insurance, 255 and it is by application only. Your kids may get money on your work record up to age 18 should you not be around. You need to think about finding life insurance yourself now to pay for them now–a private policy as much as you can afford, but with your health it may be difficult or impossible to get.

    • Thank you for contacting us Carmen. Normally, benefits for children stop when children reach age 18, unless they are disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, Social Security benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.
      Childhood disability benefits are also payable after reaching age 18, if the disability began before age 22.

  19. Carmen: Please check into life insurance now as the older you get the more in premiums you will have to pay. You will want to shop for a policy whose rate will never go up and be wise and purchase as much insurance as you can afford. At your age you can get policies for as cheap as $10.00 or less each month. Shop around and look at the offers from different companies. Make sure you contact your local SS office for any questions you have concerning benefits your sons would receive should anything happen to you.

  20. My wife Betty Sorge Avery died on Jan. 18th 2016 so I contacted Social Security and let them know. She was suppose to receive her December 2015 Social Social Security check on Jan. 23rd 2016.

    I contacted Social Security in Feb and let them know I had not received her December Social Security check
    for $819. I provided copies of her Birth certificate,our Marriage License and Her Death certificate which they ask for. This is April 14th and was wondering if I should contact them again?

    • We are sorry to hear about your loss Mr. Avery. You should have completed an SSA-1724 Form, “Claim for Amount Due in the Case of a Deceased Beneficiary”, along with the documents you mentioned. The request is then sent to our payment center for processing. You can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and ask one of our representatives for an update, or contact the local office directly. Thanks

      • Good luck Mr Avery. My husband passed Jan 2, 2016 and SSA 1724 filed with all required documents and was told it was received 2/2/2016. Still can’t get an answer when December 2015 payment will be paid. Calling the 800-772-1213 will get nothing but a different answer each time you call. So sad it takes so long to get what’s owed and even sadder still, you get the run around from people who don’t care or have answers to your questions, 30 to 45 days, 5 months, after you get a letter, has processed, is pending, I’ve heard it all! Good luck with your update. And honestly the 1724 form is a formality SSA knows your family member has passed.

  21. IÑ 1979 my husband died of a heart attack, he had retired on disability and was drawing a social security check… My husband b
    died in the bed with me… AT the time, we had lived together for seven years and legally married for five months before his death and was told by as that I was not legally married long enoth which would have to be nine months. I still do not have a legal right to see his file

  22. I’m thinking of moving to Alabama from Florida, where I’ve lived all my life, how do I transfer my disability, and food assistance to another State ,or will it fallow me as , or “IF” I move, I’ve been handicapped since 1975, and it took most of my life to get my disability,I didn’t get it until 2013. it was most difficult, they say ,I fell into the cracks of the system…and quite a few other reasons that were very frustrating to say the least, I had a spinal injury [1975]and left me paralyzed on the right side for ever, how would a person fake that??? anyway, I get my small check,[6K/yr.] and I would be devastated to lose it, for any reason. I cannot afford to lose it now that I’m nearly 60….it’s not much, but I try to manage…

  23. I started receiving my Social Security Benefits several years ago, “after” my full retirement age, and have also continued to work. I am planning to retire this year.

    My wife will be 62 this year; her full retirement age is 66.
    If she applies for reduced benefits on her own retirement or as spousal benefits, how would this affect her future benefits at her full retirement age as a widow if I should pre-decease her? Would those benefits be reduced also? And, if I should pre-decease her before she reaches her full retirement age of 66 and she is collecting reduced benefits at the time and those benefits were “deemed”to be spousal benefits, would she be forced to take a reduced widow’s benefit until she reached her full retirement age of 66 and if so would she be able to collect the “full” widows benefit on my earnings or would that amount continue to be reduced?

    One more question, please; as we are trying to contemplate our best strategy as well as preparing as much as possible for the unexpected. In the above scenario, it she were “deemed” to be applying for her own reduced retirement benefit at age 62 instead of reduced spousal benefits, would the same rules apply as above, if I pre-decease her before her full retirement age of 66, as well as/or after I should pre-decease her “after” she reaches her full retirement age?

    I am sorry, but all of this is kind of confusing and we are not sure about how to proceed. The extra income of reduced benefits at this time with the economy as it is would make quite a difference in our retirement; however, not at he expense of making a future spousal retirement mistake.

    Thank you for your consideration in explaining this so we will be better able to understand and prepare.

    • The reduction factors are permanently applied to all benefits an individual may qualify for once they opt to start benefits at age 62 or at any time prior to their full retirement age. Next, when a person is eligible to more than one benefit at the same time, that person’s benefit amount can never exceed the highest single benefit amount to which that person is entitled. Your wife may still be eligible to collect reduced benefits on your record. Remember, if someone is eligible for both, his or her own benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay their own first. If their spousal benefits are higher than their own retirement benefits, he or she will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. See our Retirement Planner: Benefit For Your Spouse for more information. In many cases, a widow can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate (as early as 60 years old) and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate. Click here to get additional information about Widow’s Benefits. Please bear in mind that the decision on when to apply for benefits is a personal one. We can only provide you with the information to help you make the best choice according to your own situation. If you have specific questions, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and speak with one of our representatives. We hope this information helps!

  24. my grandmother passed away in march of 2014 from Alzheimer’s at the age of 87, I was told by my mom that her body was donated to science.. how can I find what day she died when there is no death certificate and when my mom will not tell me when she died.. in hopes that you can help me, betty jane healy(nee: Blackwell)
    I know her name, DOB, spouse’s name and place of birth

  25. I am guarantor for my nephew’s social security benefits. I have been for over 10 years. The boy’s mother passed away at the end of last year and they were awarded more benefits due to her death. Their father whom was divorced from their mother whom has not worked enough to draw ss benefits on his own has hit 62 and filed for social security benefits off of her account. This has decreased the amount of benefits the boys receive by a 1/3 of what they were getting. How can this happen? I understand the premise behind it but have questionable doubt about the longevity of the marriage to be less than the more than 10 years. Please advise as to how to proceed with showing this information to Social Security.

  26. I am currently receiving survivors benefits from my husband who passed away 2 years ago. my question is,could I pause those benefits until I reach retirement age work full time then restart benefits?

    • Hi Lynetta. You certainly may be able to pause your widows benefit and continue to work. However, it’s important to note that you may still be able to receive some or all of your survivors benefits at the same time that you are working. If you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, we will reduce your benefit. For 2016 that limit is $15,720. When you exceed this amount, we reduced or withheld benefits accordingly. Also, when you receive benefits as a widow, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you are eligible for retirement benefits and your retirement rate is higher than your rate as a widow. You can learn more about getting benefits while working when you read our publication “How Work Affects Your Benefits”. In your situation, we suggest that you speak to one of our agents. Call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or contact your local Social Security office directly.

  27. What are the talents for s divorced spouse to receive survivor benefits? When my ex wife died in 2003, I called to inquire for myself and for the two minor children we had from that marriage. I was told there was nothing for meet but the children would get a monthly check till age 18. Does the 10 year marriage requirement pertain only to length of marriage or can the divorced spouse quality regardless of length of marriage of they are caring for minor children as a result of that marriage. I’m not sure if that makes sense or I am being clear please let me know if you need further information and of course if someone could clarify this matter for me, thank you.

    • Thank you for contacting us Benjamin. If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who dies, and your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you could get benefits just the same as a widower. You can be eligible for reduced benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled). If at the time of your ex-wife’s death – you were caring for a child or children under the age of 16, you would not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule. However, if you qualify because you have the worker’s children in your care, your benefit will affect the amount of the benefits the children receive in that same record. Benefits for family members have always been limited by the family maximum rules, meaning that there’s a limit to the amount that family members can receive each month. The maximum family benefit is the maximum monthly amount that can be paid on a worker’s earnings record. Also, if you work, there are limits on how much beneficiaries can earn while they receive benefits.
      We are confident that our agents provided the best alternative for you and the children at the time. If you have additional questions, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We hope this helps information helps.

  28. What are the requirements not talents for a divorced parent caring for children of the marriage with regards to survivor benefits.

  29. I do have a question that has been weighing over my shoulders for 10 years.
    I was 22 when I had my son, he was born in 2005. His father was never around and unfortunately he was murdered in 2008. My sons father was only 24. Just turned 24. He died on his birthday😢 there was a child support order in place but we never received anything. When u learned about his passing I was told to apply for survivor benefits for my son. So I did and I was told that since he didn’t have enough work credits ( he needed 6) he only had 1. Well unfortunately my son wouldn’t get no help.
    Okay, I do understand working and paying in, I get that. Trust me, my parents were very strict on my sis and I on getting a job asap (when we were old enough) I started working at 14 and still of course only 32! Now I have enough work credits if the roles were reversed. I understand the rules I honestly do, but I do feel like there has to be something out there for kids in this same situation. Now a days you need a 2person income to make ends meat. It has been ME since Day one being the full time mom/dad, the sole provider! Our life has been very rough and it just doesn’t seem to get any easier. Yes we do get other help in our state to help us, with our day by day needs. And I’m beyond greatly for the assistance. But I don’t want to depend on those programs. I want to be the one who can provide for my son and I. Ive done everything possible to get us to a manageable life. Working 2-3 jobs at a time for many years, I don’t ask for help I have to much pride. Plus we really don’t have much family just my dad/papa. My sons father’s family NEVER was in his life so its honestly been myself and my boy. I gave my son anything he wanted he is spoiled! He has and will always come first. When he was 4 I noticed he had such a temper and just so angry. So that was another struggle with that. Many doctors, many specialist, many appointments, therapist, counseling, etc. Etc. I didn’t give up I kept going and I still won’t stop until my son is happy and doesn’t feel so mad, and learns to control his temper. He was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, mood disorder. Like I said it had been a very tough life for the past 10 years on my own. Many tears, many break downs, but I can’t give up. I even went to college after 10 years being out of high school. I did amazing in school. I was so focused and determined to succeed! I got my A.A degree in health care administration and guess what? All that work was a waste. Couldn’t find a job. I DONT HAVE EXPERIENCE. Those are the famous words. Any idea how heartbreaking that is to keep pushing and pushing to try to make a decent life for myself and my son but its been one thing after another always pushing us way back. In all honest it does boil down to money. I don’t have the funds, to have a stable life or one that I could provide. We will always be struggling and how much of that can one person take? If my son was able to get survivor benefits it would have been a BLESSING! But no, just cause my sons father chose NOT to work that is my fault? Its bull crap if you ask me. And I tried to fight this by contacting my local mayor and getting ahold of the state officals and explain this situation that there are many kids in this world how are going through exactly what we are. They need to be protected and there needs to be some financial support for the children who has lost a parent.

  30. I am 50 years old I am a surviving divorced spouse. I was married to my ex for 18 years we divorced in 2004 he died in 2009. My question is if I get married next year at age 51 will I lose his survivors benefits because I remarry before age 60. Thank you for your advice. I really need to know I do want to get married again

  31. My father passed away June 13 2016. I was informed, I do not get $255.00 because I don’t meet the requirements. Thanks missouri for helping me and my family out in a great time of need. Thanks for letting me know your all about keeping your hands on that jar and screwing the elderly and people in need. Thanks for keeping everyone poor!!

  32. My son age 25 died on July 8, 2016. On June 4, 2016 he got married. His wife who is 26 is told she will not qualify for survivor benefits nor will she be able to get the $255.00 Lump sum benefit because they were not married 9 months. What is a young widow to do/ maybe the system should consider these people as well.

  33. Thank you for providing assistance to so many! I do understand I will make the decisions, but I have to have the facts on my options and I continue to get conflicting information. My husband died in 2007, we were married 26 years. I am 58, never remarried and work full time. What are my options related to widows benefits (under his account of course)? One source stated I could start as early as my age 60, and the amount would be reduced based on my earnings (the limit could be different from the amt stated for 2016) and even continue when I am FRA which is 66.8, but at that time, there would be no reduction based on any income I may have, and then at my age 70.5 ish, I would switch to my own retirement since it would be higher. Today, I was told nope – once I reach age 62, which is ‘early retirement age’, I HAVE to switch to my own retirement account IF I want to continue to receive any benefits( if I am no longer working of course).
    This is very confusing. And I was told I could not even schedule an appointment in person to talk about this since I am under age 60. How can anyone plan without the correct information?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Cynthia, based on your years of marriage, you seem to be eligible for reduced widow’s benefits at age 60. You could still work and receive your Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. However, if you are younger than full retirement age and making more than the yearly earnings limit, your wages can reduce the number of payments you receive through the year. You may continue to work and keep all of your benefits, no matter how much you earn, when you attain your full retirement age. If a person receives widow’s benefits, and will qualify for a retirement benefit that is more than her survivors benefit, she can switch to her own retirement benefit as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. Our system can only take applications three months in advance, we ask that you use our resources and the information we provide through our website. If you are not able to visit your local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

  34. Thank you so much for the information! I would love to discuss this in person, but I was told I had to be 60 before I could make an appointment. Maybe that really means, I can meet in person, but I just have to sit and take a number. I was also told that once I reached age 62 I had no choice and had to switch or stop attempting to receive any benefits. My desire is to work full time until 70.5 and then retire. I am just trying to find out if I can attempt to receive benefits (taking into consideration my earnings of course), as a widow, until I want to request benefits from my own account. One resource says YES and another says NO – that once I each 62 (‘early retirement’) that means I have to switch to my benefits if I want to continue to attempt to receive benefits. Thanks!

  35. If a negligent parent is collecting the survivor benefit can the child receive the benefit directly when they turn 18 and are still in school? The 18 year old is not disabled. I’m asking as their high school principal on behalf of the surviving child.

    • Thank you for your question Danny. Generally, we convert a student child beneficiary to direct pay when the beneficiary attains age 18, as long as the beneficiary is capable of managing his or her own benefits. If you think that someone is misusing Social Security benefits, we ask that you report it to us immediately. For more information, visit our “FAQs For Beneficiaries Who Have A Payee” webpage.

  36. Been waiting over 3 months for the $255. lump sum payment from the death of my husband. We were both drawing social security and have no children. How long does it take to get the money?

    • We are sorry to hear about your loss Jennie. Generally, you do not need to file an application for survivors’ benefits, or the Lump Sum Death Payment, if you are already getting benefits on your spouse’s record. However, if you are getting retirement or disability benefits on your own record, you must file an application. If you already applied, please continue working directly with your local Social Security office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance with your case. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks.

  37. My daughters father died over 11 years ago, at the time he was 21 (he had not worked a whole lot but did work some), I tried to get benefits and was denied because not enough credits. That was 11 years ago. Has anything changed? It’s been so hard doing it all on my own 🙁

    • Rules remain the same Bethany. However, there are social services available from your state. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services. Or you can visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information. We hope this information helps!

  38. Thank you so much for the information! I would love to discuss this in person, but I was told I had to be 60 before I could make an appointment. Maybe that really means, I can meet in person, but I just have to sit and take a number? I was also told that once I reached age 62 I had no choice and had to switch or stop attempting to receive any benefits. My desire is to work full time until 70.5 and then retire. I am just trying to find out if I can attempt to receive benefits (taking into consideration my earnings of course), as a widow, until I want to request benefits from my own account. One resource says YES and another says NO – that once I each 62 (‘early retirement’) that means I have to switch to my benefits if I want to continue. What is the correct statement about continuing to receive survivor benefits until I am 70.5 or any age after 62 or 63/64/65/66/67/68/69? Thanks!

    • Thank you for your question Cynthia. As a widow, you can receive full benefits at full retirement age for survivors or reduced benefits as early as age 60. (age 50 or over if you are disabled). When you receive benefits as a widow, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. In many cases, a widow can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate. The rules can seem complicated and it is a good idea that you speak with one of our representatives either by phone or in the local Social Security office. Also, if you are planning on working while you receive Social Security benefits, and you know that if you make more than the yearly limit, your earnings may reduce your benefit amount, you may want to read our publication: How Work Affects Your Benefits for more information. We encourage you to call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. You will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day or later in the week. Hope this helps!

  39. I lost my spouse in 2010 at the age of 26. We did not have any children and had been married for 4 years. Is there any benefit I should or could have been eligible for other than the one-time pay out of $255? He was my provider and no money could ever replace him. Even though we did not have children, we both still had a home. I just really think it is unfair that I only receive $255 of what he paid into Social Security. Any advice or insight as to if any other options are available would be greatly appreciated.

  40. i am collecting ssdi .i became disabled after my wife died. i made more money than she did. she was collecting ssdi at the time of her death. will i be able to collect widower benefits

    • Thank you for your question Greg. If you already receive Social Security benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a widower if the benefit amount you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor. You need to contact your local Social Security office or call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 , ( TTY 1-800-325-0778) to learn how much you could receive on the other record. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m

  41. Our permanently disabled son (born with Down Syndrome) with 17 year record making social security payments as a worker and later receiving SSDI died at age 52 December, 2016. He had no dependents. Is his (estate) eligible for the $255 death payment.

    • We are sorry for your loss Jack. The lump-sum payment can only be paid to the surviving spouse. If there’s no eligible surviving spouse, the lump-sum can then be paid to the worker’s child (or children).

  42. hello. my kids dad passed away this year. I don’t have his name on their birth certificate so when i applied for survivors benefits for our youngest they told me to have a paternity test done using his sample at the medical examiners office. I did and it matched. The guy who interviewed me told me my son is eligible to get 1k a month i was happy because i can finally get rid of 1 of my jobs to spend time with my kids. I work 3 jobs and I only see them 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins at night. I only spend one full day with them which is sunday my only day off. So after two hours the guy who interviewed me called me to tell me theres a problem and he needed additional evidence of paternity like court ordered child support, hospital religious or school records signed by him or letters from him claiming that our son is his. I only have pictures of him with my son. He sent me letters through Facebook saying he loves our kids. His parents and relatives are willing to write letter saying he is the father and how he was to us when he was still alive. The guy said he’s not sure if thats acceptable. I didn’t file for child support because he scared me. He told me he don’t know what he will do to me if i did. He was abusive towards me. Everytime I opened up about adding his name on our kids birth certificate, he will scream at me, shove me and call me names in front of the kids. i have a lot of police reports and no contact orders. When my son was 1 year old he put him in the car while he was heavily drunk.. He was an alcoholic. I called the police on him and i really stood my ground and told him i don’t want him in our life. I apply for state assistance but they want me to name him but i beg them not to go after him for child support because I wanna stay alive for my kids. After he got out of jail I slept with knife for months and barricaded the door with furnitures.I always saw him driving around my place spying on us. That is why I didn’t file for child support. The guy said he needs proof that he was supporting my kids financially. he will give 50 100 every now and then but not documented and consistent so i said no to the guy because he stole from me too. Even if he gave me money he will steal more than how much he gave me and even pawned our oldest video games for alcohol. My oldest was in counseling because of him. He was never married but he has another child which got approved. Is there hope for my kid to get the benefits. He is a special need kid and i have good reasons not to file for child support i can bring documents with me like police reports and no contact orders. i searched online and i read some success stories but not a lot and asked my friend with situation as i am. his sons dad never claimed his son as his but she fought it and his son is getting benefits.I just wanna make sure. my kids have been in the backseat long enough. thank you

    • Unfortunately, your situation is a bit more complex than we can answer in this forum. However, you have the right to file an application for benefits and receive an official denial of your claim from Social Security, which will provide you with appeals rights, if in case you wish to seek legal advice to verify our decision. It will also establish a protective filing date for benefits. Please continue working with your local office. If you are unable to visit your local servicing office, you may call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for further assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks.

  43. My spouse passed away on the last day of November 2016. Technically he was alive the whole month. I called to inquirer about his November 2016 check that was not deposited into our saving account. I was told that I’m not entitled to that check because he didn’t live the whole month. I’m confused, and asked for the rules and regulations. I was told to go to a web site from Utah. I need a New Jersey web site this is the state that I reside in. What do you think?

    • We are sorry to hear of your loss Katherine! This may not be the news you were hoping to hear, but we wanted you to hear it straight from us. To be eligible for Social Security benefits, a person has to live throughout the entire month to receive his or her check. Therefore, when a person passes away, Social Security benefits are not payable for the month in which a beneficiary dies. This applies whether the person dies on the first or the last day of the month. Please read How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies or visit our Survivors Benefits web page for more information.

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