Woman completing SSDI application

Social Security Survivor Benefits

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Under certain circumstances, the family members of a disabled individual can receive Social Security benefits. For instance, Social Security survivor benefits can kick in after the death of a disabled worker. After death, the disabled worker’s spouse or dependents may be eligible to receive these benefits. Here, we will discuss more on what Social Security survivor benefits are and who is eligible to receive them.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

In the event that a disabled person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) dies, the benefit funds that he or she was receiving can be directed to his or her spouse or dependents, such as children or elderly parents. It should be noted that these survivor benefits are only eligible if the deceased individual was receiving SSDI, not SSI. SSDI is a monthly disability benefits paid to those individuals with a sufficient work history.

Who is eligible to receive survivor benefits? A surviving spouse is eligible, for starters. There are different categories of survivor benefits for a surviving spouse and the category placement will impact the percentage of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit that the surviving spouse will be eligible to receive. For instance, a surviving spouse who cares for a child under 16 years of age who also receives survivor benefits from the deceased spouse will receive 75% of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit. Alternately, a spouse who is at least 50 years old and has a disability that began prior to the spouse’s death or within seven years of the spouse’s death will receive 71.5% of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit. Should a surviving spouse be at 60 years or older, but not at full retirement age, he or she can receive anywhere from 71.5% up to 99% of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit. Should the surviving spouse have reached full retirement age, he or she will receive 100% of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.

Children can also be eligible to receive survivor benefits. Eligible children can include natural children and adopted children as well as stepchildren. To be eligible, the child must be unmarried and younger than 18 years of age. If eligible, a child will receive survivor benefits in the amount of 75% of the deceased parent’s SSDI benefits until he or she turns 18 years of age, or earlier than that in some cases.

Adult children can also be deemed eligible to receive survivor benefits under certain circumstances. Children aged 18 years or older can receive survivor benefits if they are under 19 years of age and full-time students in a secondary school or they are disabled and became disabled prior to the age of 22. Adult children who qualify for survivor benefits will receive 75% of the deceased parents’ SSDI benefit.

Furthermore, grandchildren, as well as step-grandchildren, can be eligible to receive survivor benefits in certain cases. Should a grandchild’s biological parents be deceased or disabled and not making consistent support payments, then he or she may be eligible for survivor benefits. If a grandchild started living with a grandparent prior to reaching 18 years of age and the grandparent provided at least have of the child’s support for a year prior to his or her death, then the grandchild may be eligible for survivor benefits. If a baby under one year of age lived with the grandparent for most of his or her life and the grandparent provided a minimum of half of the baby’s support, then he or she may be eligible for survivor benefits. Qualifying grandchildren are set to receive 75% of the grandparent’s SSDI benefit until they reach 18 years of age.

Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney

Do you have more questions about Social Security survivor benefits? Talk to the knowledgeable team at Disability Advocates. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.