Other Things You Need To Know

There are limits on how much survivors may earn while they receive benefits. For example, you can work while you receive Social Security retirement (or survivors) benefits. When you do, then it could mean a higher benefit for you in the future. Higher benefits can be important to you later in life and increase the future benefit amounts your family and your survivors could receive.

It is important to note that if you are outside the United States the rules for receiving benefits while you are working are different. For example, if you are under full retirement age, then the SSA withholds benefits for every month you work more than 45 hours outside the United States in employment or self-employment (not subject to U.S. Social Security taxes), and it doesn't matter how much you earned or how many hours you worked each day. You will be considered to be working on any day you:

  • Work as an employee or self-employed person;
  • Have an agreement to work even if you do not actually work because of sickness, vacation, etc.; or
  • Are the owner or part owner of a trade or business even if you do not actually work in the trade or business or receive any income from it.

Generally, if your benefits are withheld because of your work, we cannot pay benefits to anyone else receiving benefits on your record for that month. However, the work of others receiving benefits on your record affects only their own benefits.

There is an exception, however, that under certain conditions, work performed outside the United States by U.S. citizens or residents is covered by the U.S. Social Security program. If your work is covered by U.S. Social Security, the same annual retirement test that applies to people in the United States applies to you. For more information about working outside the United States while you receive benefits, go to "Your Payments While You Are Outside The United States."

Benefits for a widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse may be affected by several additional factors such as If You're The Worker's Minor Or Disabled Child since if you are the unmarried child under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) of a worker who dies, then you also can be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits, and you can get benefits at any age if you were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.

Besides the worker's natural children, his or her stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children may receive benefits under certain circumstances such as grandchildren and step-grandchildren if a child is not receiving benefits from a parent when the grandparent retires, becomes disabled, or dies, the grandchild may then be able to qualify for benefits if certain conditions are met.

Generally, the biological parents of the child must be deceased or disabled or the grandchild must be legally adopted by the grandparent. In addition, the grandchild must have begun living with the grandparent before age 18 and received at least one half of his or her support from the grandparent for the year before the month the grandparent became entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits, or died. Also, the natural parent(s) of the child must not be making regular contributions to his or her support.

If the grandchild was born during that one year period, then the grandparent must have lived with and provided at least one-half of the child's support for substantially all of the period from the date of birth to the month the grandparent became entitled to benefits. The grandchild may qualify for benefits under these circumstances, even if he or she is a step-grandchild. However, if the grandparents are already receiving benefits, then they would need to adopt the child for the child to qualify for benefits.

You will want to consider How Much Your Benefit Would Be. Your survivor benefit amount would be based on the earnings of the person who died. The more he or she paid into Social Security, the higher your benefits would be. The monthly amount you would get is a percentage of the deceased's basic Social Security benefit. It depends on your age and the type of benefit you would be eligible to receive. It is important to note that if the person who died was receiving reduced benefits, that the SSA will base your survivor's benefit on that amount. The maximum survivors benefit amount is limited to what he or she would receive if they were still alive.

These are examples of the benefits that survivors may receive:

  • Widow or widower, full retirement age or older - 100 percent of the deceased worker's benefit amount;
  • Widow or widower, age 60 -- full retirement age - 71½ to 99 percent of the deceased worker's basic amount;
  • Disabled widow or widower aged 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.
  • Dependent parent(s) of the deceased worker, age 62 or older:
    • One surviving parent - 82½ percent.
    • Two surviving parents - 75 percent to each parent.
  • Percentages for a surviving divorced widow or widower would be the same as above.
  • There may also be a special lump-sum death benefit a surviving spouse or child may receive a special lump-sum death payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements. Generally, the lump-sum is paid to the surviving spouse who was living in the same household with the worker when he or she died. If they were living apart, the surviving spouse can still receive the lump-sum if, during the month the worker died, he or she:
  • was already receiving benefits on the worker's record; or
  • became eligible for benefits upon the worker's death as a widow or widower.
  • If there's no eligible surviving spouse, the lump-sum can be paid to the worker's child (or children) if, during the month the worker died, the child:
  • was already receiving benefits on the worker's record; or
  • became eligible for benefits upon the worker's death if, as already discussed herein above, you are the unmarried child under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) of a worker who dies, you also can be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits, and you can get benefits at any age if you were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.

Survivor benefits are also subject to the Maximum Family Amount that was discussed herein above. Survivors must apply for this payment within two (2) years of the date of death. For more information about this lump-sum payment, contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

The Survivor Benefits For A Disabled Child may be payable to a child under age 18 who may be disabled, but the SSA doesn't need to consider the child's disability when deciding if he or she qualifies for benefits as your dependent. The child's benefits normally stop at age 18 unless he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or high school (benefits can continue until age 19) or is disabled. For a child with a disability to receive benefits on your record after age 18, the following rules apply: 1.) The disabling impairment must have started before age 22, and; 2.) He or she must meet the definition of disability for adults.

There are Disability Benefits For Wounded Warriors as the effect of military service can be profound and lasting. There are a number of financial, social, and health issues that result from military service. Some Wounded Warriors and Veterans Who Have a Compensation Rating of 100% P&T are unaware that Social Security may expedite the processing of their disability claims. Military service members can receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social Security. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.

You can find additional information about disability benefits in the SSAs Disability Planner as well.

If you believe that you or a loved one are eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits and you are just applying for the first time, have been denied and wish to appeal, or simply want more information about your particular facts and circumstances, then please Contact Us as soon as possible for your free legal consultation so that we can assist you in receiving the benefits that you may be entitled to under the Law.