Who is Entitled to Death Benefit in Social Security?

When a worker who is eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits dies, their surviving spouse and dependents may be entitled to two types of benefits: A lump-sum death payment of $255 and monthly survivor benefits. A death payment and survivor benefits have different requirements that must be met to qualify to receive them.

This article offers an overview of the two benefits that you may be entitled to receive as the surviving spouse or dependent child of a deceased worker who paid Social Security taxes on earnings from working for an employer or through self-employment. When you finish reading it, contact a Social Security disability lawyer or disability advocate at London Eligibility to learn more about benefits you may be entitled to receive.

Special lump-sum death payment from Social Security

A one-time lump sum death payment is available upon the death of a worker who was eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or retirement benefits. The payment generally goes to the surviving widow or widower who was living with the eligible worker at the time of death.

The $255 lump-sum death payment may still be paid to a surviving spouse living apart from the deceased provided the spouse was receiving Social Security benefits on the deceased worker’s employment history or became eligible to receive them when the worker died. Either of the conditions must have occurred during the month in which the eligible worker died.

A child or children of a worker may receive the $255 death payment provided there is no surviving widow or widower. The child must either be receiving benefits on the parent’s Social Security record during the month in which the parent died or become eligible for them upon the worker’s death.

If a surviving spouse or child receives benefits at the time of a worker’s death, the Social Security Administration will automatically process the payment. Otherwise, the eligible widow or widower or child has two years from the date of death to apply to the SSA for the payment.

Survivor benefits

When someone who worked long enough to qualify for retirement or SSDI benefits dies, their family may be entitled to death Social Security benefits known as survivor benefits. Survivor benefits may be available to the following relatives of a worker:

  • I). Spouse
  • II). Children
  • III). Parent

As a general rule, a worker becomes eligible for Social Security retirement or SSDI benefits when they have earned 40 work credits. One work credit represents $1,510 of income earned in wages or through self-employment in 2022. You can earn as many as four credits a year. The earnings to acquire one work credit changes each year.

The 40 work credits that a worker needs to be eligible for SSDI or retirement benefits for themselves or survivor benefits for their family equals 10 years of work history. If a worker becomes disabled and unable to continue working, they may be able to qualify for SSDI benefits or provide their family with survivor benefits with as few as six credits. Generally, the younger the age of a worker when they become disabled or die, the few credits needed to qualify for SSDI or provide their family members with survivor benefits.

Monthly survivor benefits are payable to the following family members of a deceased worker:

  • 1). Surviving spouse who is at least 60 years old.
  • 2). Surviving spouse who is disabled and is at least 50 years old.
  • 3). Surviving spouse, regardless of age, caring for a child who is younger than 16 years old or who receives a child’s disability benefits.
  • 4). Unmarried children of the deceased who are younger than 18 years old or younger than 19 and a full-time student in elementary or high school.
  • 5). Unmarried, disabled children of the deceased who are at least 18 years of age and their disability began prior to turning 22 years of age.

Depending on the circumstances of a particular claim, survivor benefits may also be payable to the following family members:

  • A). Stepchildren
  • B). Grandchildren
  • C). Step grandchildren
  • D). Adopted children

The best way to find out about eligibility for survivor benefits is by consulting an SSDI lawyer at London Eligibility.

How much will you get in survivor benefits

The amount that family members receive in survivor benefits depend on the lifetime earnings the worker had before they died and the age of the surviving family member. For example, a surviving spouse at full-retirement age or older may receive 100% of their deceased spouse’s benefit.

If they are between the 60 years and full-retirement age, spouses receive 71.5% to 99% of their spouse’s benefit. Speak to an SSD lawyer to find out about survivor benefits for younger spouses and other family members.

Get more information about death benefits

A free consultation with an SSD lawyer at London Eligibility provides answers to questions you have about Social Security death benefits you may be entitled to as the family member of a deceased worker. If you have a disabled child, an SSI lawyer or disability advocate can help you apply for SSI benefits or other benefits available through Social Security.