Prematurely losing a loved one to an accident at work is a tragedy simply unparalleled. If that person also happened to be the primary breadwinner in a family, the shockwaves extend well beyond the personal turmoil that will follow. In addition to the pain of loss, you must now figure out how to continue to support yourself and the remaining members of your family that depend on you. Although nothing will replace the loss of a loved one, there are certain safety nets set up through the government that are specifically meant to address this horrific ordeal. Through the Social Security system, widowers and children of deceased family members are entitled to certain rights, including monetary compensation to account for lost income. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/survivorplan for more information.
Here are some of the summarized benefits available through Social Security:
- As you work and pay into Social Security, you earn credits towards post-death benefits. The younger you are when you die, the fewer years you need to have paid into the system. Nobody needs to work for more than 10 years to be eligible for these benefits.
- If you have only worked for one and a half years, and you die within three years of starting that job, benefits will be available to your spouse and your children.
- A one-time payment of $255 may be available to the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, a surviving child may be eligible for this payment.
Widows and widowers
- Any widow or widower may be eligible for full monthly benefits once they reach retirement age. The retirement age for people born in 1945-1956 is 66. People born after 1962 reach retirement age at 67.
- A widow or widower can get reduced benefits as early as age 60
- If your surviving spouse is disabled, they may receive benefits as early as age 50.
- If a widow or widower is caring for a child of the deceased under the age of 16, or if the child is of any age and disabled, they may be eligible for monthly benefits.
- In certain circumstances, a surviving divorced spouse may be eligible for benefits as well.
Children of the deceased
- An unmarried child of the deceased may be eligible for benefits is they are younger than 18 (and up to age 19 if they attend school full-time)
- A child of the deceased may receive monthly benefits if they are age 18 or older and have a disability that was diagnosed before they turn 22.
- In certain cases, a stepchild, grandchild, stepgrandchild or adopted child may be eligible for benefits.