How Long Will I Receive Social Security Survivor Benefits?

by Linda Richard ; Updated September 11, 2015

Social Security regulations provide survivors benefits to those who qualify, including spouses, children, ex-spouses and dependent parents. The deceased worker must meet benefit requirements, and each survivor must meet age and eligibility requirements. If the survivor fails to meet the age or eligibility requirements, Social Security stops survivors benefits payments.

Significance

Survivors benefits are based on the work history of the deceased and the age and relationship of the survivor to the deceased worker. Classes of survivors who may collect benefits based on the work history of the deceased are spouses who are unmarried and over age 60 or a spouse who is age 50 and disabled. A spouse caring for minor children of the deceased may collect survivors benefits without age limitations, and minor or disabled children may be entitled to survivors benefits. An ex-spouse married to the deceased a minimum of 10 years and at least age 60 may receive survivors benefits. Dependent parents of the deceased who are age 62 may also be entitled to benefits

Time Frame

If you are receiving Social Security survivors benefits, you and the deceased worker have met the qualifications required by the Social Security Administration. You must continue to meet qualifications to continue receiving benefits. For example, children under the age of 18 qualify for survivors benefits based on a deceased parent, but once a child nears the age of 18, Social Security sends a notice that benefits will cease. If the child is a high-school student or disabled, you must notify Social Security to extend benefits. A widow or widower receiving benefits based on caring for a child of the deceased will also receive notification that benefits will cease.

Options

When a spouse or ex-spouse receives survivors benefits, he may choose to collect his own benefits at age 62 if his benefits are more. You may continue to receive survivors benefits, but you have an option to receive your own benefits instead at a higher rate. You may also choose to wait until you are full retirement age to receive your own benefits. You will need to notify the Social Security Administration of your choice.

Considerations

You can receive Social Security survivors benefits as long as you qualify. Once you no longer meet the qualifications, your benefits will cease. If your spouse dies while you and the children are young, there may be years between the time the children are age 18 and you reach age 60 when survivors benefits are not available to you.

Warning

The Social Security Administration requires repayment of benefits received if you are not entitled to them. It even requires surrender of a check sent to the deceased the month after death, although that payment is for the month of death. Comply with the regulations and return any checks to which you are not entitled.

About the Author

Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.

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