Most people are aware that Social Security provides benefits for retirees. But there are other benefits available through Social Security, including survivor insurance. Based on eligibility, certain family members can receive additional Social Security benefits.

How Eligibility Is Determined

To be eligible for survivor insurance, the deceased family member must have credit for work that is covered by Social Security. This work can range from 1-1/2 to 10 years, depending on the worker’s age at death. The amount paid to survivors also depends on the deceased’s average lifetime earnings.

Lump-Sum Death Payment

Eligible survivors may receive a one-time payment of $255 if the deceased has accrued sufficient work credits. This payment is given to only one survivor in the following order of priority:

  • A surviving spouse who lived with the deceased at the time of death.
  • A surviving spouse who is eligible for Social Security benefits on the deceased’s earnings record during the month of passing.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, the benefit goes to the children who are eligible for the benefits during the month of death.

Monthly Benefits

In addition to the lump-sum payment, eligible survivors are also entitled to monthly benefits. In this case, eligibility is determined as follows:

  • A widowed spouse who is age 60 or older. Exceptions to this are if the widow/widower is 50 or older and disabled or is any age and caring for an entitled child who is under 16 years old or disabled.
  • A divorced widow/widower aged 60 or older (50, if disabled), but only if the marriage lasted 10 years or longer or if they are caring for an entitled child who is under 16 years old or disabled.
  • Unmarried children under 18 (or 19 if they are full-time students in primary or secondary school). Under some circumstances, stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children may also be eligible for benefits.
  • Children who were disabled before reaching 22 years of age, as long as they are still disabled
  • Dependent parent(s) who are 62 years old or older.

Applying For Social Security Benefits

You must file an application with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by going directly to an SSA office or by calling (800) 772-1213. You are required to present the following information to apply:

  • Death certificate
  • Social Security numbers for the deceased, the applicant, and dependent children
  • Applicant’s birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate and/or divorce papers
  • W-2 forms or the deceased’s most recent federal self-employment tax return
  • Bank name and account number so benefits may be directly deposited

Other Important Information

You must report your spouse’s passing to Social Security immediately if you are already receiving benefits on your spouse’s record at the time of death. In doing so, your payments will then be changed to survivor benefits. If you are receiving benefits for your own work record, you will need to apply to Social Security to determine if you can receive additional payments under survivor benefits.

At San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home, it is our privilege to serve you and your family in any way that we can. We provide the above information to you as a helpful service. If you have further questions about Social Security benefits, we recommend logging on to the Social Security Administration website at www.ssa.gov.