What are Social Security Survivor Benefits?
If you are the dependent of a deceased person who was receiving Social Security benefits at the time of death, then you may be eligible to receive Social Security Survivor Benefits based on the deceased’s earnings. The higher a deceased’s lifetime earnings are, the greater the benefit amount will be for his or her survivors.
Those who may qualify to receive Survivor Benefits include a widow or widower, a dependent parent, a divorced spouse, and children under the age of 18 (or age 19 if currently in elementary or secondary school).
Calculating Survivor Benefits
As mentioned above, not all survivors receive a uniform Survivor benefit amount; rather, benefits are calculated using the deceased’s income as well as the survivor’s status. For example, a widow or widower who is of retirement age or older will receive 100 percent of the deceased’s benefit amount. Benefit amount percentages are outlined as follows:
- Widow or widower age 60 to full retirement age: 71.5 to 99 percent of benefit amount
- Disabled widow or widower age 50 through 59: 7.5 percent of benefit amount
- Widow or widower caring for a child under age 16: 75 percent of benefit amount
- Child under age 18: 75 percent of benefit amount
- Dependent parent(s): 81.5 percent for one parent; 75 percent each to two surviving parents
If more than one person in the family is receiving benefits, i.e., a dependent child and a widow, then there is a limit on the amount that one family can receive each month, regardless of the percentages listed above. The limit is anywhere between 150 and 180 percent of the deceased’s monthly benefit amount, depending upon family maximum “bend points” through the Social Security Administration. Note that there is also a limit on the amount of money that a survivor may earn while receiving Survivor Benefits.
Lump Sum Benefit Amount
In addition to a monthly benefit amount, a one-time lump sum benefit amount may also be paid to certain survivors. The payments can only be made to a surviving spouse or child, and only if they meet certain requirements. The lump sum amount is $255.
Will my family members automatically get Survivor Benefits if I die?
It is extremely important that you plan for your family members when thinking about retirement, as Social Security Survivor Benefits are not automatically given; instead, they must be earned by a worker in the form of credits. A worker earns up to one credit for every $1,200 of income made, but can only earn up to four credits per year. The number of credits required to provide benefits to your dependents in the event of your death is dependent upon the age at which you die – however, no one needs more than 40 credits to ensure that their survivors are provided for.
Start Planning for Your Loved Ones Today
If you are nearing retirement age, the time to start thinking about what might happen to your family if you die is now. At Social Security 567, our mission is to help you and your family understand your options when it comes to your benefit amounts. To set up your consultation with one of our professionals today, contact us now.