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Frequently Asked Questions

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When you die, members of your family could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings. You and your children also may be able to get benefits if your deceased spouse or former spouse worked long enough under Social Security.

Who can get survivors benefits?

Widows and Widowers
A widow or widower can receive benefits:

  • At age 60 or older.
  • At age 50 or older if disabled.
  • At any age if they take care of a child of the deceased who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

Divorced Widows and Widowers
A divorced widow or widower can receive benefits:

  • At age 60 or older if the marriage to the deceased lasted at least 10 years.
  • At age 50 or older if disabled and the marriage to the deceased lasted at least 10 years.
  • At any age if they take care of a child of the deceased who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

Unmarried children
Unmarried children can receive benefits if they are:

  • Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time).
  • Any age and were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.

Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, stepgrandchildren, or adopted children.

Dependent parents
Parents age 62 or older who received at least one-half support from the deceased can receive benefits.

One-time lump sum death payment
A one-time payment of $255 can be made only to a spouse or child if they meet certain requirements. Survivors must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.

How to Apply for Survivors Benefits
You cannot apply for survivors benefits online. To report a death or apply for survivors benefits, use one of these methods:

More Information
If You Are The Survivor
Survivors Benefits

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