Social Security

Ask social security questions and get answers ASAP

Ask an Expert, Get an Answer ASAP!

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Individuals that have lost a loved one may be able to apply and receive Social Security survivor benefits. Not knowing how to apply for the survivor benefit or what the criteria is to meet the qualifications often lead to questions like the ones answered below.

I am 66 yrs old and unable to retire until I am 70. Can I apply for survivor benefits?

Surviving spouses may be able to receive spousal benefits upon the death of their spouse. There are certain qualifications that must be met. Those qualifications include:
• They must be a widow(er) who has not remarried before age 60
• Can be any age if caring for children under the age of 16 or disabled children who get benefits
• If born before 1938, can receive full benefits at age 65 or older or reduced benefits at age 60
• If born after 1960, can receive full benefits at age 67
• If widow(er) is disabled, can receive benefits at age 50-60

I am eligible for survivor benefits from my late wife as we were married over 10 years. Can I receive survivor benefits in addition to my own Social Security payment when I reach retirement age?

You are able to receive widow(er) benefits based on your age, length of marriage, and current marital status. If qualified, you can apply for the survivor benefit beginning at the age of 60 up until you reach your full retirement age. However, if you receive survivor’s benefits and you now qualify for the retirement benefit you will only receive the one that is higher in benefit amount. You would not be able to collect both benefits.

How do I apply for survivor’s benefits?

You can apply for widow’s benefits if you are over the age of 60 and have not remarried. You would want to apply for the benefit as soon as you can because benefits are paid from the time you apply not from the date of death.

Social Security Administration offers two was to apply for benefits by telephone or at a Social Security office. There are certain pieces of information that an individual will need to furnish. These should be either the original document or certified copies of the original.

The information needed includes:
• Proof of death—either from a funeral home or death certificate;
• Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased worker’s;
• Your birth certificate;
• Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower;
• Your divorce papers, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower;
• Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates;
• Deceased worker’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year; and
• The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.

According to the SSA website, if you are already receiving benefits as a spouse base on your spouse’s work, when you report the death to SSA, they will change your payments to survivor’s benefits. If they need any more information beyond that, they will contact you.

If you are receiving benefits based on your own work then you can call the SSA and they will check to see if you can get more money as a widow(er). If so they will give the higher of the two.

What are the qualified expenses that a parent can spend their minor child’s survivor benefits on?

Parents or legal guardians are able to utilize a child’s survivor benefits towards items that see to that child’s day-to-day needs for food and shelter. Once the food and shelter need has been met, then the money can be used for any medical/dental needs that are not covered by insurance and for personal needs (clothing & recreation). If there is any money left over it must be saved.

If I currently receive survivors benefits and I receive a settlement of money from something unrelated, will my benefits be reduced?

The social security survivor’s benefit is not a program based on an individual’s assets. The money that you may receive from a settlement would not have any effect on your survivor’s benefits.

Knowing the correct information about Social Security survivor benefits can prove to be an asset when dealing with the death of a spouse or loved one. Experts can help answer questions about survivor benefits or the process of applying for survivor benefits. Get the answers fast and affordably by asking an Expert online.
Please type your question in the field below

3 verified Social Security Experts are online now

Social Security Experts on JustAnswer are verified through an extensive 8-step process including screening of licenses, certifications, education and/or employment. Learn more




3684 positive reviews
Megan C

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Master's Degree

4591 positive reviews


Juris Doctor

3071 positive reviews
See all Social Security Experts