Social Security Survivor Benefits
Although many people don’t realize it, anyone who works and pays into Social Security has a portion of their money going into survivors’ insurance. That means families have a certain level of protection in the event a breadwinner dies. Understanding these benefits and your eligibility for them may require the assistance of a local attorney who focuses on Social Security benefits.
Earning Credits for Social Security Survivor Benefits
Survivors—which could be spouses, parents, or children of someone who has died, may collect benefits if the deceased had previously worked for enough time and contributed to Social Security. Here’s how the system works:
Workers may earn as many as four credits annually. As these credits accumulate, so do the benefits. After ten years of employment earnings of roughly $5,000 annually, a worker acquires 40 credits. Notably, the years of earnings do not have to be consecutive. This is the minimum amount needed to qualify for a variety of Social Security benefits, including Survivor benefits, except in cases of younger workers. For instance, if the worker was employed for the year and one-half previous to death, earning six credits, survivors are eligible for benefits. Every situation is different, so consulting with a knowledgeable advocate is often key to understanding your eligibility.
Procedure to Acquire Benefits
After the death of a family member, it is important to notify the proper agencies. In many cases, the funeral home takes care of this if they are given the Social Security number of the deceased. Alternately, benefits are available after a phone call or visit to the local Social Security office. A number of forms must be filled out properly.
Eligible surviving spouses who were living together or who were eligible for benefits may receive an initial payment of $225. In the event there is no surviving spouse, eligible children may receive this sum. Additionally, monthly benefits may be dispersed, which will be based on the earnings of the deceased.
Who Qualifies for Benefits?
These benefits may go to a number of family members, including:
- The surviving widow or widower if aged 60+;
- The surviving widow or widower if disabled and aged 50+;
- The surviving widow or widower, regardless or age, who is raising the deceased’s child(ren) aged 16 or younger;
- The surviving widow or widower, regardless or age, who is raising the deceased’s disabled child(ren);
- Any single children of the deceased who are either under age 18 or who are 19 and enrolled in elementary or secondary school on a full-time basis;
- Any single children of the deceased who have a disability that initiated before the age of 22;
- Parents who depended on the deceased for a minimum of 50 percent of their income and who are aged 62+;
- Under unique circumstances, the adopted children, grandchildren, step-children, or step-grandchildren of the deceased;
- The deceased worker’s former spouse following a divorce, provided the marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years.
The last thing you may feel up to doing following the death of a loved one is filing papers and dealing with the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration. That’s why it’s beneficial to have the compassionate, knowledgeable legal team at the office of Derek L. Hall, PC working for you. Let us deal with the mundane and convoluted requirements for the SSA, ensuring you get the maximum benefits to which you are entitled. Call our heavy hitters today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.