What benefits are available for the surviving spouse if a partner dies?


Quick Answer

Eligible spouses of those who worked long enough to qualify for Social Security receive benefits after their partner's death including monthly benefits and a one-time lump sum death payment. Those already receiving Social Security payments don't need to apply for survivors' benefits, but others need to apply to receive benefits.

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What benefits are available for the surviving spouse if a partner dies?
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Full Answer

Those eligible for survivors benefits include spouses age 60 or older, disabled spouses age 50 or over and spouses of any age caring for a child of the decedent who is disabled or under 16. Divorced spouses also qualify if they meet the age requirements and were married to the decedent for 10 years or more, or they are caring for the decedent's child who is disabled or under 16. Surviving spouses cannot report a death or apply for benefits online. They must phone or visit a Social Security office.

The Social Security payments that a spouse is already receiving through a partner's work credits remain the same and become survivors benefits after the Social Security Administration receives a notice of death. Spouses may also automatically receive the lump sum death payment. The lump sum payment is only available to spouses living with their partner at the time of death or already receiving benefits with them. Other eligible spouses should sign up for survivors' benefits promptly and supply necessary documents, as these benefits are sometimes not retroactive.

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