Social Security Survivors Benefits Page: 4 of 6
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adult children of deceased workers."1 In December 2007, monthly child's benefits
Parent's Benefits. The surviving parents of fully insured people are eligible for
parent's benefits if they are over age 62 and were receiving at least half of their support
from the deceased worker.12 Parent's benefits are 82.5% of the worker's basic benefit.
Less than 0.1% of all survivor beneficiaries (about 2,000) received parent's benefits. In
December 2005, parent's benefits averaged $851 a month.13
Lump-Sum Death Benefits. In addition to monthly survivors benefits, a
deceased worker's family may be eligible to receive a one-time death benefit of $255.14
Only one lump-sum death benefit is payable to the family of each insured person. The
lump-sum death benefit is paid to the insured person's surviving spouse, regardless of
age, as long as the spouse meets certain requirements.5 If no eligible widow or widower
exists, the death benefit is paid in equal shares to any children who qualify for child's
benefits based on the deceased worker's record. If a worker leaves no eligible spouse or
child, the lump-sum death payment will not be paid.
Reductions to Survivors Benefits. The total survivors benefits paid to an
insured worker's family are capped, regardless of the number of family members who
qualify for benefits. The maximum family benefit is 150% to 188% of the worker's basic
benefit, depending the amount of the benefit. If the total survivors benefits payable to a
worker's family exceed this maximum, each person's benefit will be reduced
proportionately. Divorced surviving spouses' benefits do not count toward the maximum.
Survivors benefits may also be reduced for beneficiaries who work before full
retirement age. Survivor beneficiaries younger than full retirement age are subject to an
earnings test, wherein their benefits are reduced if their earnings exceed certain limits.
The benefits of other family members would not be affected by the reduction.
" Social Security Administration, Annual Statistical Supplement, 2006, June 2007, at
[http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2006/]. (Hereafter, SSA Statistical
12 Evidence of support must be provided to SSA within two years of the death of the insured
person, even if the parent has not yet reached the qualifying age of 62.
13 SSA Statistical Supplement.
14 The death benefit is equal to the smaller of three times the worker's Primary Insurance Amount
(PIA), or $255. The death benefit is effectively $255 because the minimum PIA for a worker
with 10 years of coverage (the minimum required to be fully insured) was $341 in December
15 To qualify, a spouse must be living with the worker at the time of death or must be eligible to
receive certain Social Security benefits based on the worker's record in the month of death.
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Social Security Survivors Benefits, report, January 8, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc812116/m1/4/: accessed November 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.