Requirements for survivor benefits

What are the requirements for a survivor to receive Social Security benefits?

To receive survivors benefits, the deceased worker must have earned the required number of Social Security credits. Survivors also must meet the following requirements:

  • A widow or widower may be able to receive full benefits at full retirement age or reduced as early as age 50.  For more information on widows, widowers and other survivors, visit Widows, Widowers & Other Survivors.
  • A widow or widower can receive benefits at any age if she or he takes care of the deceased worker’s child who is entitled to a child’s benefit and younger than age 16 or disabled.
  • deceased worker’s unmarried children who are younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time) also can receive benefits. Children can get benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
  • deceased worker’s dependent parents can receive benefits if they are age 62 or older. (For parents to qualify as dependents, the deceased worker would have had to provide at least one-half of their support.)
  • deceased worker’s former spouse who is age 60 or older (as early as age 50 if disabled) can get benefits if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. A former spouse, however, does not have to meet the age or length-of-marriage rule if she or he is caring for their natural or legally adopted child who is younger than age 16 or who is disabled and also is entitled based on the deceased worker’s work.