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Frequently Asked Questions: Social Security Administration

What are survivor’s benefits and who is eligible for them?

When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, certain members of the family may be eligible for survivors benefits, depending on the person's age at the time of their death.

According to the Social Security Administration’s website, Social Security survivor’s benefits can be paid to:

  • A widow or widower -- full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60;

  • A disabled widow or widower -- as early as age 50; 

  •  A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased's child who is under age 16 or disabled, and is also receiving Social Security benefits;

  •  Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children; 

  •  Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled; 

  • Dependent parents age 62 or older.
For more information, please see the SSA's How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies electronic fact sheet.