Social Security is not just a retirement program; it works as a survivor benefit program, where dependants of the deceased can receive benefits following his or her demise. The amount received by the survivor depends on a number of factors. The relationship the survivor had with the deceased counts. For instance, an ex-spouse, if eligible for the benefit, will receive much less than a spouse with dependent children. Other factors considered include the age of the survivor and their health.
The widow or widower and children left behind. There are terms for each of these parties. If at the time of the subject’s death the spouse was at least 65 years, they are eligible for full social security benefits. If they are below this age, they will receive between 71% and 91%. Younger spouses who are left with minors to take care of get 75% and in most cases, the child too receives 75%. Disabled spouses aged 50 and above get full benefits. If a spouse remarries before turning 60, they will lose their departed partner’s social security benefits. For children to qualify for a dead parent’s social security benefits, they must be less than 19 years old. Exceptions are where the child is older and disabled.
The first thing a survivor needs to do is contact the Social Security immediately following the death of their loved one. Social Security will then guide them on how to apply for social security benefits. What they need to provide as proof that they are indeed the eligible beneficiaries is: the departed’s death certificate, W-2 forms for the deceased, their (survivor’s) social security number along with that of the deceased, birth certificate, children’s birth certificates and social security cards; and divorce papers if you were divorced at the time of death.