Who Is Entitled To Death Benefits In Social Security?

Published on: October 18, 2022

Workers who pay Social Security taxes on their earnings or self-employment income are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or retirement benefits. Family members of a worker who dies may be entitled to death Social Security benefits through a lump-sum death benefit and through Social Security survivor benefits. 

If you believe you are the spouse, child, or parent of a deceased worker, a consultation with an SSDI Advocate at Disability Experts FL can provide you with all of the information and skillful representation that you need to apply for the Social Security benefits that you are entitled to receive. 

Social Security Lump-Sum Death Benefit

The spouse or child of a deceased worker is entitled to receive a one-time death benefit of $255. A surviving spouse is entitled to receive a lump-sum death payment provided they and the deceased worker lived together at the time of death. 

If a surviving spouse was living apart from a deceased worker, they may still be eligible to receive the one-time death benefit. Spouses receiving benefits through the account of deceased workers are entitled to the lump-sum death benefit even though they and the worker were living apart. 

When a worker dies and there is no spouse surviving, the worker’s child may be entitled to receive the death benefit. In order to be eligible for the $255 payment, a child must be eligible to receive Social Security benefits on the earnings record of the deceased worker during the month of the worker’s death. 

Social Security Benefits Payable to Survivors

Family members may be entitled to monthly survivor benefits when an eligible worker dies. Survivor benefits are monthly payments that are not the same as the lump-sum death benefit. 

When a person pays Social Security taxes on earnings, part of what is paid goes toward benefits for the family members when the worker dies. Those eligible to apply for benefits include the following members of the worker’s family: 

  • A spouse who is age 60 or older unless the spouse is disabled and at least 50 years old.
  • A divorced spouse who meets specific guidelines.
  • Spouses of any age caring for a child of the deceased who is younger than age 16 or is disabled and receiving child’s benefits because of the disability.
  • An unmarried child who is younger than age 18 or is at least 18 with a disability that began prior to age 22. A child who is not disabled and attending elementary or secondary school as a full-time student is eligible for benefits until they reach age 19.

Stepchildren and grandchildren of a deceased worker may qualify for survivor benefits if certain requirements are met. The same is true for a deceased worker’s dependent parent who is at least 62 years old. Half of the parent’s income must have been from the worker. There are limits on the amount that a parent may receive in benefits as well as other conditions that an SSD Advocate at Disability Experts FL can review with you. 

The Amount Payable as Social Security Benefits to Survivors 

The lifetime earnings on which a person paid Social Security taxes determine the benefit amount that family members receive upon the death of a worker. Examples of the Social Security benefits payable to surviving members of a deceased worker include: 

  • A spouse who is at full retirement age or older receives 100% of the deceased worker’s benefit.
  • A spouse who has not reached full retirement age but is at least 60 years old receives 71.5% to 99% of the deceased worker’s benefit.
  • A disabled spouse who is between 50 to 59 years old receives 71.5% of the benefits payable to the deceased worker. 

Other family members should speak with an SSD Advocate at Disability Experts FL who will review your claim for survivor's benefits to determine the amount that you are entitled to receive. 

When multiple members of a worker’s family apply for and receive survivor benefits, Social Security must adhere to a benefit limit that is a percentage of the worker’s basic benefit rate. The maximum payable to family members is between 150% and 180% of the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount. Benefits payable to the divorced spouse of a deceased worker are not included in calculating the maximum benefit. 

If the benefits paid to family members are greater than the allowable amount, Social Security must reduce it. It does this by proportionately reducing each family member’s benefit. 

Get help from Disability Experts FL with Social Security death benefits 

Whether you need assistance with death benefits after the loss of a loved one or to apply for Social Security disability benefits for yourself, Disability Experts FL can help. An SSD Advocate can answer all of your questions and provide skilled representation for SSDI and Supplemental Security Income applications and appeals. When you need an SSDI or SSI Advocate, contact us for a free consultation.

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