If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and you’ve wondered what happens to those benefits when you pass away, you’re not alone. It’s a tough but important question. Understanding how survivor benefits work can provide peace of mind. Knowing that your loved ones may be able to receive financial support after your death can ensure their well-being in difficult times.
What are Social Security Survivor Benefits?
When a person who has paid into the Social Security system passes away, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide survivor benefits to eligible family members. It’s an essential part of the social safety net that can help reduce the financial hardship that often follows the loss of a loved one.
Here are the main categories of family members who could potentially receive survivor benefits:
Surviving spouses – If you’re married and you pass away, your spouse can receive benefits based on your work record. If they’re of full retirement age or older, they can receive 100% of your benefit amount. If they’re age 60 or older, they can receive 71.5% to 99% of your benefit. If they’re disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50. They can also receive benefits at any age if they’re caring for your child who is under 16 or disabled.
Children – Unmarried children under 18 (or up to 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full-time) can also receive benefits. Children who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled can also qualify.
Dependent parents – In some cases, if you have a parent who was dependent on you for at least half of their support, they might be eligible for survivor benefits once they reach age 62.
How Much Can My Survivors Receive?
The amount of survivor benefits your loved ones can receive depends on your earnings and the amount of Social Security benefits you were entitled to at the time of your death. The more you paid into Social Security during your lifetime, the higher their benefits would be.
Each family member may be eligible for a monthly benefit that is up to 50% to 100% of your basic Social Security benefit. However, there’s a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to a family. This family maximum is usually between 150% and 180% of your benefit rate.
Applying for Survivor Benefits
Survivor benefits are not automatic. Your loved ones must apply for them. They can do so by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contacting their local Social Security office. Your family members need to contact the SSA as soon as possible after your death because benefits may not be retroactive. They may lose benefits if they delay applying.
Thinking about what happens to your SSDI benefits when you’re no longer here can be tough, but it’s an important conversation to have. Having an understanding of the process can provide some peace of mind and knowledge that your loved ones could receive some financial support. Remember, it’s completely normal to have questions about such important matters. Becoming informed and prepared is one of the best ways we can provide some comfort for our families no matter what the future holds.