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Social Security Survivors' Benefits

Posted on:12/21/2011
Nearly all older widows and widowers are eligible to receive social security pensions. Spouses aged 60 and over and divorced spouses of workers covered under Social security may be eligible for aged widow(er)'s benefits upon the death of the worker. The benefits generally range between 71.5 percent and 100 percent of the "primary insurance amount" (PIA) plus delayed retirement credits where applicable.



A widow or widower (of any age) may be eligible to receive surviving mother's or father's benefits of 75 percent of the deceased worker's PIA if caring for a child of the worker who is either under age 16 or disabled and entitled to survivor's benefits on the worker's record. Divorced surviving mothers or fathers must be caring for a natural or adopted child who is entitled to a child's benefits on the worker's record.


Even without dependent children, widow(er)s and divorced widow(er)s aged 50 through 59 can receive monthly benefits equal to 71.5 percent of the PIA, but only if they themselves are disabled and their disability began within seven years of the worker's death.  The qualifications for benefits for divorced aged widow(er)s and disabled widow(er)s are essentially the same as for non-divorced survivors except that the marriage must have lasted for at least ten years.


Surviving children under age 18, surviving children of any age who were disabled before age 22, and surviving children aged 18 and, in some cases, 19 who are full-time elementary or secondary school students are eligible for monthly benefits if a parent or, in some cases, grandparent was insured by the program at the time of death. Surviving children receive benefits equal to 75 percent of the deceased worker's PIA. Parents do not have to have been married for their children to be eligible.

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