Social Security & Survivor Benefits
The loss of the family wage earner can be devastating, emotionally and financially. Social Security helps by providing income for families of workers who die. In fact, 98 of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent dies. Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program.
Many people think of Social Security only as a retirement program. But some of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward providing survivors insurance for workers and their families. Oftentimes, the value of the survivors insurance you have is more than the value of your individual life insurance.
When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors benefits. These include widows, widowers (and divorced widows and widowers), children and dependent parents.
As you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits toward your Social Security benefits. The number of years you need to work for your family to be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits depends on your age when you die. The younger you are, the fewer years you need to work. But no one needs more than ten years of work to be eligible for Social Security benefits.
Under a special rule, if you have worked for only one and one-half years in the three years just before your death, benefits can be paid to your children and your spouse who is caring for your children.
Applying for Survivors Benefits
If you are not currently getting Social Security benefits, you should apply for survivors' benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time the worker died.
The information needed includes:
- Proof of death, either from a funeral home or death certificate
- Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased worker's
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower
- Your divorce papers, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower
- Dependent children's Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates
- Deceased worker's W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year
- The name of your bank and your account number so benefits can be deposited directly
If you are getting benefits as a wife or husband based on your spouse's work when you report the death, The Social Security Administration will change your payments to survivors benefits. If you are getting benefits based on your own work, call or visit a Social Security office to check if you can get more money as a widow or widower.
The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1-1/2 to 10 years, depending on his or her age at death.
Who Can Qualify?
- A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
- A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
- Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full lime).
- Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled.
- Dependent parent or parents 62 or older.
A one time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment (LSDP) is paid in the following priority order:
- A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.
- A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.
- A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.
Read more about survivor benefits at SocialSecurity.gov. Or call Burton Funeral Homes at 814-454-4551.
Dear Burton family –
We can’t thank everyone enough for making a very difficult time bearable. Everything was absolutely perfect! My dad would be proud and being part of the Ericson/Burton family made me so proud. Everyone kept saying thank God you work for the Burton’s! They really made us feel at ease and truly cared for dad and our whole family. Love and hugs.
Dear Karen, you were very gracious and helpful caring for my family. Things went very smoothly.
Thank you for all your guidance and care.
July 26, 2018
Thank you so much for helping us navigate mom’s celebration of life. Your presence was greatly appreciated. Truly a professional, compassionate experience.
January 10, 2019
Dear Karen, I am so sorry this is late coming but I wanted to express to you how kind you were to my daughter on the loss of her baby. You are such a warm and caring person.
A special thanks for helping us make our mother's funeral so personnel. You are greatly appreciated.
April 3, 2018
I would like to thank Burton Funeral Home for the great job performed in the funeral of my blessed brother. Shamiah did a wonderful job and went above the call of duty.
She was very professional yet so caring towards our family and her duties.
She is truly an asset to Burton Funeral Home.
July 23, 2018
“To: Peter, There are many words I could use to express my appreciation! I want to thank you! Words can’t express how grateful I am for what you have done for my mom!
To have her look her best for the Lord, and letting me see her and to honor her. You made this happen. Your staff is a gift from God.
I never wanted this day to come so fast. When I came to Erie with my mom I had hopes and dreams for a better life. But she became ill. I had to put her in a nursing home. I never want to be without her love.
My mom, I wanted to honor her the way a daughter should. God knew this was the place for her. Many people need to know about this place. A tear comes down my face, I am blessed to know you and your staff.”
I couldn't have asked for a more dedicated, caring person to assist in our time of sorrow. I need to thank you for everything, honestly without you and your kind heart I'm not sure that it would have been possible, so THANK YOU!
March 21, 2018
“Superior Service!” Joanne H.
“I thought it was wonderful there was help with life insurance!” – Chandra
“Everything was really perfect! I will use this funeral home in the future!” – Linda
October 26, 2019
I don’t know if I properly thanked you for everything you did for us. Last year was so much of a fog. But I wanted you to know how much we appreciated all that you did.
January 5, 2019