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Social Security Death Benefits

By: Stephen Jarvis - February 06, 2005
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If you have ever wondered about what amount of Social Security death benefits your heir will receive should you die, you may be surprised to learn that your survivors will be paid a whopping one-time death payment of $250.

Of course, the payment can be made only to your spouse or minor children if they meet certain requirements and only if you have worked long enough. Your Social Security death benefits are a little limited, wouldn't you agree?

There are also survivor benefits that can be paid. Social Security survivor benefis depend on your average lifetime earnings. The more you have earned, the more your family's benefits will be. Following is who may receive social security survivor benefits:
  • Your widow or widower can receive full benefits at age 65 or older (if born before January 2, 1940) or reduced benefits as early as age 60. (The age for receiving full benefits is increasing for widows and widowers born after 1939 until it reaches age 67 for people born in 1962 and later.) You can visit to view the chart that lists the percentage of benefits payable to a widow or widower based on their age. Your disabled widow or widower can get benefits at age 50.
  • Your widow or widower can receive benefits at any age if she or he takes care of your child who is entitled to a child's benefit and is age 16 or younger or who is disabled.
  • Your unmarried children who are under age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time) also can receive benefits.
  • Your children can get Social Security benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to your stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children. A child born or adopted after you begin to receive benefits may also qualify for benefits.
  • Your dependent parents can receive benefits if they are age 62 or older. (For your parents to qualify as dependents, you would have had to provide at least one-half of their support.)
You should check your Social Security Statement, which is sent each year to every worker age 25 or older. The Statement gives an estimate of survivors benefits that could be paid, as well as an estimate of retirement and disability benefits and other important information.

You can find out about your Social Security death benefits by going to or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

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