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An Overview of SSI Survivor Benefits

Posted by attorney Brenton Adams

SSI survivor benefits may be available to surviving children and spouses if the wage earner of your home has died. For help understanding your rights, contact a Social Security attorney in Fayetteville.

Applying for SSI Survivor Benefits

Most benefits are paid from the time you apply, not from the date of your family member’s death, so it’s important to act quickly. Using a Social Security attorney in Fayetteville should help speed up the process.

The following is some of the information that will be required when you apply for survivor benefits:

  • death certificate (or another form of proof);
  • birth certificates of survivors;
  • marriage certificate of surviving spouse;
  • Social Security numbers (of the deceased, along with survivors);
  • divorce papers (if applying as a divorced widower or widow);
  • W-2 forms (or self-employment tax form) for the deceased’s most recent year; and
  • bank account information (for direct deposit).

If your spouse was disabled and you already received benefits, once you report his or her death, payments automatically will switch to SSI survivor benefits. Or if you receive your own disability benefits, you may be entitled to more money if your spouse has died. Let a Social Security attorney in Fayetteville handle these matters for you.

SSI Survivor Benefits: Amount Available

Benefits are dependent on how much money the deceased put into Social Security. Factored into this will be the age of the survivor(s) and relationship to the deceased worker.

For instance, children typically receive about 75 percent of the benefit amount. Widows or widowers with a child under the age of 16 receive about the same. If this is confusing for you, contact a Social Security attorney in Fayetteville to handle these matters.

If it’s a widow or widower older than 59 and not yet retired, the range is between 71 and 99 percent of the benefit amount. At full retirement, a survivor typically receives 100 percent.

Family benefits do have a maximum amount that can be paid. It’s generally between 150 and 180 percent of the benefit amount.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), in 2012 the average SSI monthly payment was $515-518. This is higher than the last average amount in 2011 of $501. These payments can help alleviate some of the financial burden that families deal with when a wage earner dies.

Another thing that can impact payment is if you work. There are limits that your earnings cannot exceed. But as soon as you reach full retirement age, those limits don’t apply. Even though working may reduce the amount of a widow or widower’s benefits, it doesn’t affect how much the children are entitled to receive.

If you get remarried before turning 60, you may not be entitled to SSI survivor benefits. Remarriage after age 60 -- or age 50 if disabled -- still may allow for you to receive benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings. If the benefits would be higher with your new spouse, then after age 61, you can get those.

If you have questions concerning the amount or eligibility requirements, you may wish to consult a Social Security attorney in Fayetteville. He or she will review the details of your situation to determine if you and/or your children qualify for SSI survivor benefits.

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