Social Security Death Benefit -
What is it?

Social Security Death Benefit can be a confusing element in the social security process. Certain members of a person’s family may be eligible for survivors benefits, if the person has worked in a job covered by social security and that person dies.

When you die and have paid into social security for a certain period of time, members of your family could be eligible for social security death benefits based on your earnings. One normally needs no more than 40 credits of work, or 10 years, to be eligible for survivors to receive some of your benefits.

But the number of credits that one needs depends on your age when you die. Younger workers will need fewer credits for their family to receive social security death benefit at the time of death.

The situation does exist that benefits can be paid to your children and spouse who is caring for your children even if you don’t have enough credits. You can get benefits if you have one an one-half years of work, equivalent to 6 credits, within three years just before your death.

Lump Sum Death Benefit

One may receive a lump sum payment as social security death benefit, but must provide information regarding birth, military discharge and work records (W-2, etc.). One must also provide detailed information regarding the deceased worker and their work history. The surviving spouse must also provide information regarding his/her work history.

Survivors Benefits

The surviving spouse may qualify for social security survivors benefits. Full benefits may be received at full retirement age or reduced benefits can be received as early as age 50.

A disabled widow or widower may receive benefits as early as age 50. A widow or widower can receive survivor benefits at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased child, who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits.

Unmarried children under age 18 qualify as well. Children of any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled also qualify.

Lastly, dependent parents age 62 or older can qualify to receive social security survivors benefits.

More on survivors benefits can be found in Chapter 7.

This e-Book can only provide an overview of all of the elements involved in understanding the social security benefits that are available to you. We hope you have found this information useful and encourage you to examine the social security website at encourage you to examine the social security website at to provide more detail to you in your analysis of the full range of benefits available to you.


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