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Understanding Social Security Survivor Benefits

Gordon, Wolf & Carney June 1, 2023

According to the most recent Social Security Beneficiary Statistics, about 5,860,654 beneficiaries in the United States received survivor benefits in 2022. Surviving family members of eligible deceased persons, including their spouse, parents, and children, may receive Social Security survivor benefits after their loved one's passing. These benefits will help cater to their day-to-day living expenses, which the deceased person's income would otherwise have provided for. 

If you have lost a family member who worked long enough under Social Security, you may be entitled to receive Social Security survivor benefits. At Gordon, Wolf & Carney, we are dedicated to providing personalized legal counsel and reliable advocacy to clients in Social Security survivor benefits-related matters. Our experienced Social Security attorneys can enlighten you about the eligibility requirements and walk you through the application process. We proudly serve clients in Towson, Maryland, and across the nation. 

How Survivor Benefits Are Earned 

Social Security is a federal program that offers benefits to seniors, retired people, older adults, people with disabilities, unemployed people, and other eligible individuals. Generally, employees who have worked several years and paid their Social Security taxes may qualify for Social Security benefits following their retirement or when they become older. 

In the event that the person dies, the surviving family members of the deceased person may be entitled to receive part or all of their Social Security benefits. However, the amount of surviving benefits often varies depending on the income of the deceased person. The more you paid into Social Security during your lifetime, the more survivors' benefits would be available to your surviving loved ones when you're gone. 

Who Is Eligible for Survivor Benefits?  

Here are the people that may be entitled to receive survivor benefits: 

  • surviving spouse 

  • Children with disabilities 

  • minor children 

  • parents age 62 or older who were dependent on the deceased person 

  • an adopted child, grandchild, stepchild, or step-grandchild under specific situations 

An experienced attorney can determine whether you qualify to receive Social Security survivor benefits and guide you through the application process. 

How to Apply for Benefits 

Follow the steps below to apply for Social Security survivor benefits: 

  • Hire an experienced attorney for detailed guidance and to enlighten you about the process. 

  • Obtain and complete your application forms. 

  • Submit your application online or visit any nearby Social Security office in your area. 

  • Provide proof of death. 

  • Schedule an appointment with the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

  • Attend the SSA meeting with the necessary documentation, such as marriage or divorce certificates, birth certificates, proof of adoption, and most recent W-2 forms. 

  • Provide the bank account details where you would like the SSA to deposit the monthly survivor benefit payments. 

A trusted Social Security benefits lawyer can help complete your application and calculate the benefit amounts that you're likely to receive. 

Benefit Amount 

The amount of Social Security survivor benefits that beneficiaries may recover is usually capped based on the deceased person's earnings and other surrounding circumstances: 

  • If a person becomes disabled or retires, their qualified child will be entitled to receive about 50% of the person's full retirement age benefit. 

  • If the person dies, their qualified child will be entitled to get about 75% of the person's full retirement age benefit. 

  • The surviving spouse, full retirement age or older, will be entitled to get 100% of the decedent's benefit amount. 

  • The surviving spouse with a disability aged 50 to 59 will be entitled to get 71.5% of the decedent's benefit amount. 

  • The surviving spouse, notwithstanding the age, with child care responsibilities will get 75% of the decedent's benefit amount. 

A reliable attorney can advocate for your best interests and ensure that you receive the maximum survivor benefits that you're entitled to. 

Helping You Understand Your Rights to Benefits 

The death of a loved one can be overwhelming and can affect you financially and emotionally. Thankfully, you may be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits to help you meet your financial needs after such a huge loss. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys at Gordon, Wolf & Carney have the diligence and resources to advocate for the best interests of the surviving family members of deceased workers. 

As your legal counsel, we can determine your eligibility for Social Security survivor benefits and help you calculate the actual amount you're entitled to receive. In addition, our legal team will help file your claims, submit the necessary documentation, and follow up with the status of your application. Above all, we will fight diligently for your rights and improve your chances of a successful application. 

Contact us at Gordon, Wolf & Carney today to schedule an initial consultation with seasoned Social Security benefits attorneys. Our skilled lawyers can offer you the detailed advocacy and skilled representation you need when applying for benefits. With our office in Towson, Maryland, we proudly serve clients nationwide.