If you’re like most people, you think of social security as retirement benefits. And, it is. However, the social security program has survivorship benefits as well.
The surviving spouse (or children who are eligible for benefits, if there is no surviving spouse) is entitled to a lump sum payment of $255.
The social security administration provides benefits for a surviving spouse once she attains a certain age.
The surviving spouse can receive 100% of the deceased spouse’s social security benefits if she is 65 years of age, or, perhaps, older, depending on her date of birth.
If the mandated retirement age isn’t yet met, a smaller social security payment may be received. For example, a smaller payment is made if the surviving spouse is 63 and the retirement age for her year of birth is 65.
Note that if the surviving spouse gets remarried after the age of 60, retirement benefits from the first spouse continue.
While the surviving spouse cannot collect double payments from social security (i.e. her deceased husband’s and her own), she can choose whichever payment is greater.
So long as the marriage was 10 years or more, a divorced spouse of the decedent (who has not remarried before age 60) receives full social security payments for life, starting at age 65. Reduced benefits are available, starting at age 60.
It is possible for an ex-spouse and a second spouse (i.e. surviving spouse) to both collect social security payments based upon the same decedent spouse.
Children age 18 and younger (or, 19 and still in high school) are entitled to monthly social security benefits.
Disabled children can receive social security survivorship benefits for their lifetime so long as they continue to be disabled.
If the decedent had grandchildren or great-grandchildren or dependent parents (age 62 or older), they may be entitled to social security survivorship benefits as well.