What Social Security benefits are surviving family members entitled to?

How much your family would receive in benefits depends on your average lifetime earnings. The higher your earnings were, the higher their benefits would be. We calculate a basic amount as if you had reached full retirement age at the time you die.

Note: If you are already receiving reduced benefits when you die, survivor benefits are based on that amount.
The maximum survivors benefit amount is limited to what you would receive if you were still alive.

These are examples of monthly benefit payments:

  • Widow or widower, full retirement age or older --100 percent of your benefit amount;
  • Widow or widower, age 60 to full retirement age -- 71½ to 99 percent of your basic amount;
  • Disabled widow or widower, age 50 through 59 -- 71½ percent;
  • Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 -- 75 percent.
  • A child under age 18 (19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or disabled -- 75 percent.
  • Your dependent parent(s), age 62 or older:
  • One surviving parent -- 82½ percent.
  • Two surviving parents -- 75 percent to each parent.

Percentages for a surviving divorced spouse would be the same as above.

There also may be a special lump-sum death payment.