Social Security benefits are typically seen as a source of retirement money for workers, but children, grandchildren, spouses caring for children, and parents of deceased workers may also qualify for Social Security aid, explains Paul Norr, writing in Financial Planning .com.

Among survivors of deceased workers, the most common recipients of post-death Social Security benefits are the millions of U.S. children who qualify because they are:

  • unmarried
  • under age 18
  • under age 19 and enrolled in secondary or elementary school
  • a dependent either by birth, marriage or adoption

If a worker has died, the child can receive up to 75% of the worker’s benefit the worker himself would have received had he/she continued earning wages until retirement.

What happens when there are several children?  Every child in the family may qualify for benefits, subject to a total ceiling on dependent benefits for a family. That maximum ranges from 150% to 180% of the deceased worker’s full retirement benefits calculated by the Social Security Administration at filing time.

Even grandchildren may qualify for benefits if both parents are deceased and the child  became a dependent of his/her grandparent(s). Great-grandchildren do not qualify.

Under what circumstances do the widows or widowers of workers become eligible to collect benefits?

  • They remain unmarried
  • They do not qualify for retirement benefits based on their own work histories
  • They are at least 60 years of age (or 50 if disabled)

Parents of working children may qualify for Social Security benefits, provided:

  • they are 62 or older
  • they do not collect benefits based on their own work history
  • they were dependent on the worker when he/she died

Florida financial advisor Tony Kendzior, CLU, ChFC lists some primary differences between Survivor benefits and spousal benefits:

  • Survivor benefits are much higher, as much as twice as high
  • Survivor benefits are based on the deceased’s Full Retirement Age benefits plus any delayed retirement credits the worker may have accrued by waiting to claim (spousal benefits don’t consider delayed retirement credits)
  • The minimum length of marriage required to qualify for spousal benefits is 12 months (9 months for survivor benefits)

“Social Security has become a fundamental element in the lives of virtually every American on the planet,” says Kendzior.

– by Ronnie  of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team