Who Qualifies For Social Security Survivor Benefits?

By: Ali R. Baghdadi, Esq.

April 2, 2020

Social Security

Unfortunately, tragedy can strike without any warning. Losing a loved one is devastating, and it is especially impactful if that individual is the primarily wage earner in the household. Social Security benefits helps by providing income for the families of workers who die.

Some of the deceased’s family members may be able to receive Social Security Benefits if the deceased worked long enough in jobs insured under Social Security to qualify for benefits. These include widows and widowers (and divorced widows and widowers), children, and dependent parents.

In most cases, a widow or widower qualifies for survivor benefits if he or she is at least 60 years old, and had been married to the deceased for at least nine months at the time of the deceased’s death. But, here are a few notable exceptions to those requirements:

• You can apply for survivor benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled and the disability occurred within seven years of your spouse’s death.

• If you are caring for children from the marriage who are under 16 years old or disabled, you can apply at any age.

Whether you wed again can also affect eligibility. If the remarriage took place before you turned 60 years old (50 years old if you are disabled), you cannot draw survivor benefits. You regain eligibility if that re-marriage ends. There is no effect on eligibility for survivor benefits if you remarry at or past 60 years of age (50 years of age if disabled).


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