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Social Security Information
Definition of survivors benefits
Who is eligible for survivors benefits
Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:
A widow or widower -- full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60
A disabled widow or widower -- as early as age 50
A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased's child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits
Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled or dependent parents age 62 or older
How work affects survivors benefits
You can receive Social Security survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, depending on your age, your benefits could be reduced if you earn more than a certain amount.
How retirement affects survivors benefits
If you are collecting survivors benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits (assuming you are eligible and your retirement rate is higher than the widow/widower's rate) as early as age 62.
In many cases, you can begin receiving retirement benefits either on your own or your spouse's record at age 62 and then switch to the other benefit when you reach full retirement age, if that amount is higher.
How to apply
Call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our toll-free "TTY" number, 1-800-325-0778.
Information that you will be asked for:
Information that is asked for depends on the type of benefit that is being applied for.
Please select from one of the follow, and a new page will open with the required information.