Ohio Social Security Disability And SSI Legal Blog

Survivor benefits eligibility and requirements

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Firm News

Losing a loved one is an incredibly challenging experience. Amidst the emotional turmoil, financial stability can become a concern. Suddenly, you have to pay outstanding medical bills on top of funeral and burial expenses. You might even be facing debt, unpaid loans and monthly rental fees.

In the United States, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides survivor benefits to help ease this financial burden on the surviving family members. These benefits can serve as your lifeline during times of loss and transition.

Who is eligible for SSA survivor benefits?

The SSA offers survivor benefits to various family members who have lost a loved one. The following individuals are typically eligible:

  • Spouse: The surviving spouse of the deceased can receive survivor benefits if they were married to the deceased for at least nine months before their passing. However, the court may waive this requirement if the death was due to an accident or occurred while serving in the military.
  • Divorced spouse: In certain circumstances, a divorced spouse may be eligible for survivor benefits if they were married to the deceased for at least 10 years and have not remarried before 60.
  • Children: Biological children, adopted children, and, in some cases, stepchildren may be eligible for survivor benefits. Generally, unmarried children under 18 (or up to 19 if they are still in high school) can receive benefits. Additionally, children of any age who have a disability below the age of 22 may be eligible.
  • Dependent parents: If the deceased individual provided at least half of their parent’s support, the dependent parents may be eligible for survivor benefits. This provision aims to assist elderly parents who rely on their deceased child for financial assistance.

How to apply for SSA survivor benefits?

Applying for SSA survivor benefits is a straightforward process. Begin by contacting the Social Security Administration as soon as possible after the death of your loved one. You can visit their website or call them to schedule an appointment or inquire about the application process.

Along with the application, you will need to submit supporting documents such as:

  • Death certificate
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Identification documents
  • Marriage certificate or divorce decree
  • Child’s birth certificate

After submitting your application and supporting documents, the SSA will review your case. Be prepared for possible follow-up requests for additional information or documents. Once the review is complete, the SSA will notify you of their decision.

By understanding the eligibility criteria, you can ensure a smoother experience when applying for SSA survivor benefits. Remember, these benefits can provide essential financial support during a challenging time, helping you focus on healing and rebuilding your life.