If you or a loved one are in hospice care, you may be wondering about what kinds of Social Security survivor’s benefits are available for the family after a loss. After the death of a loved one, the next of kin should immediately contact the local Social Security Office to apply for survivor’s benefits because they may not be retroactive.

How much are the benefits?

Typically, Social Security pays out a special one-time payment of $255 to the surviving spouse of an eligible recipient. However, additional monies will depend on the earnings of the deceased. The more he or she paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits.

Person filling out Social Security Benefits Application Form

Who is eligible to receive benefits?

Survivor benefits can be paid to a surviving:

  • widow or widower – full benefits at 65 and older or reduced benefits as early as age 60. A disabled widow can receive benefits at age 50-60.
  • widow or widower – at any age if he or she is taking care of your child under the age of 16 or disabled.
  • unmarried children – until the age of 18. Your child can receive benefits at any age if they were disabled before the age of 22 and have not recovered from their disability.
  • dependent parents – at the age of 62 and older.
  • divorced spouses – your former spouse can receive benefits under the same circumstances as your widow or widower if your marriage lasted 10 years or more. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

Focus on hands, one person holding another person's hand in a comforting way

Information you need to provide

If you would like to receive survivor benefits, you must provide the following information at the time of your claim:

  • Proof of death
  • Social Security number (yours and the person who has died)
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate – if you’re a widow or widower
  • Divorce papers – if you’re applying as a surviving divorced spouse
  • Dependent children’s Social Security numbers
  • Deceased worker’s W-2 forms
  • Bank name – if direct deposit is an option

It is important to remember that Social Security benefits and qualification rules for benefits change periodically. With this in mind, be sure to contact your local Social Security Administration office or visit their website to learn more. Go to ssa.gov to find more information.

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