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The Basics of Social Security Survivor Benefits

It is indeed a devastating incident when a once happy family has suddenly lost a breadwinner. This unfortunate incident brings tremendous amount of pain and suffering, both financially and emotionally, to all its members. Here, the Federal Government, under the supervision of the Social Security Administration, has initiated the survivor benefits program to provide financial aid for these troubled families. Throughout the years, this program of the SSA has been the main source of income for those surviving spouses, children and parents of the workers who have died if they have met the criteria set by the federal agency. The SSA records will show that 98% of the qualified employees' children can be eligible for these benefits.

How can a worker be covered by this insurance?

Most of the employers automatically deduct social security taxes from the monthly wages of their employees. This enables the workers to earn credits for the said program. The employees should complete 40 credits or equivalent to 10 working years to be eligible. However, their children, spouses and parents may still acquire benefits in case the employees die after earning six work credits.

Who can acquire survivor benefits?

    The employee's widow or widower and ex-spouses who have been married with the departed for at least 10 years

  • age 65 if born before 1940
  • age 60 if born in 1940 or later
  • age 50 and above if 'disabled'
  • at any age if taking care of a child younger than 16 or 'disabled'
    The employee's unmarried children

  • below the age of 18
  • age 19 or below if still a full time elementary or high school student
  • at any age if 'disabled' before the reaching 22 years
  • in some special instances, the stepschildren, grandchildren or adopted children
    The employee's dependent parents

  • age 62 or above

The amount of benefits

Basically, the cost of benefits that the claimants can get depends on the average lifetime earnings of the departed. This would mean that if the departed earned more, the tension is, the claimants would be getting larger compensations. To be able to determine these amounts you may check the SSA's website at or consult a professional social security attorney.

Applying for the survivors benefits

The application for this type of social security benefit should be done immediately. This is because there are times that the benefits are paid starting the date of application and not prior to the date of the employee's death.

    The claimants should bring the following original or certified copies of these documents and other information:

  • Funeral or death certificate
  • The claimant's social security number as well as the departed employee's
  • The petitioner 'birth certificate
  • Marriage contract
  • Divorce papers
  • The departed employee's most recent federal self-employment tax return or W-2 forms
  • The bank account number where the money will be deposited

The right for a representative

Since most of the eligible beneficies do not have the capacity or time in pursuing their petitions, they are given the option to obtain their own representative. Preferably, representatives may be licensed social security attorneys who are very much adept about the SSA's rules and requirements on filing a survivor benefits claim.

Source by Rainier Policarpio

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