Beyond its role in replacing a portion of your income, Social Security supports family members who have lost loved ones as well as those with disabilities.
If you were married to a U.S. citizen who worked for at least 10 years while paying taxes to Social Security, you might be entitled to a survivor benefit that is higher than what you are entitled to due to your own earnings. These survivor benefits are disbursed as half of the deceased’s earned benefit. Even if you were married more than once, you are still entitled to this benefit if you were married for at least 10 years and meet other criteria.
Survivor benefits are also available to divorced spouses if they had been married for at least 10 years and the surviving spouse meets certain criteria. Dependent children under 16, those 18-19 who are full-time students, and disabled children whose parent died are also able to receive benefits.
If your adult child was providing at least half of your support and has since died, you may be entitled to a parent’s benefit. The benefit will be calculated based on how long the child worked and their average indexed monthly earnings.
Often the two people in a married couple will not have earned the same amount of money over time. If your earned benefit is less than half the earned benefit of your spouse, you will be able to receive the greater of the two benefits.
You may also be entitled to spousal benefits if you are taking care of a child under the age of 16 or an adult child who developed a disability before age 22.
If you are disabled, you may be able to access higher benefits based on your own work rather than based on the work of a parent.
If the marriage lasted for at least 10 years, you will be able to receive benefits based on your former spouse’s work.
If a parent is entitled to disability or retirement benefits and has a child under their care who is under 18 or disabled, the child may be eligible for benefits based on the parent’s work history.
You may also be eligible for child benefits if you are unmarried and under age 18 or were disabled prior to age 22 and have a parent who is deceased or receiving Social Security benefits.
You may be eligible for benefits through the Veterans Administration if you receive SSI and have military experience.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that supports adults and children with a disability or blindness by supplying monthly payments. Recipients must have incomes and resources below specified amounts. People 65 and older without a disability may qualify for SSI as well if they meet the income and resource requirements and have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
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