Cities and Towns in the United States /social » How to Apply For Survivor’s Benefits

What happens when you die? How will your dependents survive? Is there a way of ensuring they benefit from my savings and other work-acquired benefits? If you’re wondering how your family can benefit from survivor’s benefits or if you can gain from your partner’s earnings after their demise, take a look at this guide for more information.

Applying for survivors benefits in the US

What are Survivor’s Benefits?

Survivors’ benefits are inflation-adjusted money disbursements that family members or dependents of a deceased person receive every month. This money comes in handy in ensuring that the remaining family members enjoy a stress-free transition after the demise of their loved one. This provision, however, is only available to survivors of an employee who paid some money into social security.

Who can apply

As the name suggests, this stipend is only available to family members survived by the deceased family member. These include widows, widowers, divorced partners, children, and parents. If you fall under one of these categories, you apply to receive survivors’ benefits after the death of your loved one.

You should visit the department the deceased family member worked in and apply for this benefit. Designated beneficiaries receive 71.5% - 100% of the deceased member’s monthly benefit amount.

Why is it Important to Apply?

While death isn’t something most people like to think about, it is a certainty that every person has to face at one point in their lives. Instead of waiting for death to catch you off guard, you can take steps towards securing a survivors’ benefit plan. Some of the perks of this option include:

  • • Guarantees your family’s future.

  • • Offers a plan for your dependents

  • • Cushions your family from shock stemming from lack of income if you are the breadwinner

Requirements And Documentation Needed

Every claimant must submit documents that ascertain they are the deceased dependents or partners before they begin receiving the promised stipend. These documents include:

  • • Claim form, filled, dated, and signed

  • SSN for the claimant and deceased

  • • Birth dates, citizenship, and mailing address

  • Marriage certificate

  • • A photocopy of the death certificate

  • • IRS forms, WP4 and W8-BEN

  • • Citizenship affidavit

  • • Custodianship certificate of the minor

  • • Child annuitant school certification

  • Birth certificate

  • • Proof of US citizenship

  • • Forms SSA-3368 and SSA 827 for disability benefits

  • • W2 forms or self-employment tax for the previous year

  • Final divorce decree

  • • Any other additional information required from you

Where To Apply

The social security service offers two options for applying for this benefit. You can call the national toll-free number and apply for this benefit via phone. Alternatively, applicants can visit their nearest social security office and process an in-person application.

How Much Are You Expected To Get

The monthly amount you receive depends on your relationship with the deceased and how old you are. Here is a breakdown of disbursements for each category of beneficiaries.

  • Children in elementary or secondary school or those with disabilities take 75%

  • Disabled widows and widowers aged between 50 and 59 get 71.5%

  • Fully retired widows and widowers receive 100% of the deceased person’s benefit stipend

  • Parents of the deceased dependent on the worker get 81% for one parent and 75% for two parents each.

  • Surviving divorced partners claim the same amount as widows and widowers.

  • Widows and widowers at 60 get 71.5% - 99% of the deceased monthly benefit

  • Widows and widowers taking care of a child below 16 receive 75%


As long as you begin collecting survivors’ benefits after retirement, you are eligible to keep receiving this stipend for your lifetime. However, if you draw anything more than the recommended monthly amount, the duration will reduce depending on how much you withdraw.

When it comes to children, these benefits are valid until they are 22 years and are in school full time.

Cost And Processing Time

Application for this benefit is free. The government reduces the call cost to zero. You only have to spend money if you mail the documents or opt to visit the nearest social security office instead of calling. However, you must wait three to six months before completing your request.