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Social Security survivors benefits help ease the financial burden that follows a worker's death. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits, too. Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivors benefits depends on the worker's age at the time of death. It may be as little as 1-1/2 years for a young worker. No one needs more than 10 years.

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

  •  Widows and widowers age 60 or older.
  •  Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased's child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled.
  •  Divorced wives and husbands age 60 or older, if married to the deceased 10 years or more.
  •  Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
  •  Children up to age 18.
  •  Children age 18 - 19, if they attend elementary school or high school full time.
  •  Children over age 18, if they became disabled before age 22.
  •  The deceased worker's parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.

In addition to the monthly benefits for family members, a one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased at the time of death. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment can be paid to:

  • A spouse who is eligible for benefits.
  • A child or children eligible for benefits.

This payment cannot be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.

The Social Security website is a valuable resource for information about all Social Security programs.
Visit their website or call 1.800.772.1213.