Losing a family member to social security can be hard enough. The devastation can prove even more cumbersome if the family has to deal with unforeseen financial issues along with the emotional turmoil.
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration provides social security benefits to survivors of a disabled spouse. The SSA may also grant social security benefits to survivors of a person who wasn't disabled but had the eligibility to qualify for social security claims.
How do you earn survivors benefits from social security?
When a person dies, the widow or widower may be eligible to receive half the amount of income from the disabled spouse's benefits. However, if the spouse wasn't already receiving social security claims, the survivor can file for social security claims on their dead spouse's benefits provided they meet certain conditions:
- The dead spouse had enough work credits to qualify for social security;
- The surviving spouse is not receiving social security benefits on their own social security accounts;
- The surviving spouse's benefits are not lower than the dead spouse's social security benefits;
- The surviving spouse has not remarried;
- The surviving spouse takes cares of minor children of the dead spouse;
The survivor benefits do not only apply to surviving spouses but also to parents and children who were dependent on the dead person financially. If the dependent parents have no retirement benefits or social security income, SSI on their own accounts, they may be eligible for benefits under the survival benefits from their deceased disabled child's social security.
Also any dependent's or spouse(s) can receive benefits under the dead family member's social security if they become disabled as long as they meet the above criteria.
Unmarried children or minors may also receive survivor benefits as long as they do not reach adulthood, turn 18 or maximum 19 (if they are in high school). The chronically ill children may also continue to receive benefits until the disability lasts if they became disabled before they turned 22. Any stepchildren, grandchildren, adapted children or great grandchildren would also be eligible for the benefits as long as they were already dependent on the dead person and living in their house at the time of their death.
Surviving divorced spouse
The ex-spouse (60 or older) or (50-59 if disabled) may be eligible for survivor benefits under special conditions:
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years;
- The ex-spouse takes care of the children of the dead person until they turn 16;
- The ex-spouse takes care of minor children who are disabled;
The ex-spouse would not have to meet the length of marriage (10 years of marriage) requirement if they are the caretakers of the minor children or children who are disabled and are entitled to the dead person's social security record.
Whatever the case, the total amount of receivable benefits under survivor benefits cannot exceed the amount of benefits that were received by the dead person on their social security record at the time of death. Also, the eligibility requirements to qualify for social security can greatly vary for each situation. You may contact a social security attorney for more legal guidance.