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Providing for Loved Ones Even in Death: How Social Security Survivor Benefits Help Families

Social Security is a program designed to provide seniors with continuing income during retirement. However, if someone dies before they can collect benefits, they may never receive anything back from the money they put into the program. But someone who dies before being able to collect Social Security benefits may still be able to provide for their family with those benefits through what are known as survivor benefits, as reported by USA Today on February 15, 2023.


Children of deceased parents can earn survivor benefits based on their parent’s work record. They can collect 75% of their deceased parent’s benefits, but not the full amount their parent would have earned during retirement, according to USA Today.


Widows and widowers can receive 100% of their deceased spouse’s benefits if they are of full retirement age. Those under full retirement age can earn up to 99% of their spouse’s benefit if they are at least 60. Widows or widowers caring for a child under 16 can earn 75% of their deceased spouse’s benefits. Combined, a spouse and child could collect 150% of the deceased spouse’s benefits.


To apply for Social Security survivors benefits for a child, a parent will need the child’s birth certificate or another document showing proof of birth or adoption. Once you’ve gathered the required documentation, you can apply by calling 1-800-772-1213, according to the IRS.


In most cases, benefits are only available until age 18. Benefits may be granted until the age of 19 for primary and secondary students or until the age of 22 for individuals diagnosed with a disability before the age of 22. A child cannot obtain Social Security survivor payments since their parent did not work.

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