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Social Security Survivor Benefits - Who is Eligible and How to Apply

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    It can get complicated trying to figure out Social Security benefits, especially when trying to sort out all the requirements and going through the process of getting survivor benefits, in the unfortunate situation of a loved one passing.

    Going to include some resources about this here from the official Social Security Administration's website, as well as some (hopefully) helpful exerts. And then some articles that might break everything down even easier.

    Important to keep in mind there are 2 types of survivor benefits - a one-time lump sum payment of $255 and/or a monthly survivor benefit.

    First up, this is what SSA has to say, generally speaking, about who is eligible for SS Survivor Benefits:

    Who receives benefits?

    Certain family members may be eligible to receive monthly benefits, including:

    • A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
    • A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances;
    • A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on their record;
    • An unmarried child of the deceased who is:
      • Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or
      • Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.


    For applying, they make it very clear on their site that you cannot report a death or apply for survivor benefits online:

    We should be notified immediately when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

    In most cases, the funeral home will report the person’s death to us. You should give the funeral home the deceased person’s Social Security number if you want them to make the report.

    If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can speak to a Social Security representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also visit your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to speak to someone.

    Recommend reading through these resources in full if someone who was receiving SS benefits in your family passed away, and you believe you might or definitely do qualify for Survivor Benefits. Many family members don't realize that they actually would.

    These 2 are from the official Social Security Administration website:

    Benefits Planner: Survivors | If You Are The Survivor
    Benefits Planner: Survivors | How You Apply

    And this article is also quite helpful:

    Who Is Eligible for a Social Security Death Benefit?


    Feel free to share any other helpful resources in this thread, or talk about your own process of applying and/or receiving survivor benefits, especially if you have any tips or suggestions for others that could help.

Categories: Social Security