Social Security Survivor’s Benefits: Info & Eligibility

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Social security administration application

Losing a loved one is always difficult, but it can quickly feel impossible when you lose a loved one unexpectedly and require financial support. While it can be hard to think about, funeral expenses aren’t cheap. Plus, in many situations, the sudden passing of a loved one means the loss of a needed income source.

In Colorado, accidents were the fourth leading cause of death in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you’ve recently lost a loved one or just want to be covered in the unfortunate event that this happens to you, find out what survivor’s benefits you could be eligible for under social security and what legal options are available to you in the event of a wrongful death.

What are social security survivor’s benefits? 

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), survivor’s benefits are financial support that is sometimes given to a dead person’s family member in the unfortunate event that a loved one has passed. To qualify for survivor’s benefits, the person who died must have worked and paid into social security long enough to qualify for these benefits before their death.

You can apply for survivor’s benefits as soon as the death certificate is sent to the social security administration. Usually, this is done through the funeral home, so be sure to give the funeral home the correct social security number. For more information, you can call the social services office at 1-800-877-1213.

Who is eligible for survivor’s benefits through social security?

Image of social security building

According to the SSA, the following people may be eligible for benefits under survivor’s benefits through social security:

  • A surviving spouse who cares for the child of the person who has died, if the child is under the age of 16 or has a disability (must be receiving child’s benefits in the case of disability).
  • A surviving spouse who is 60 or older (benefits as early as 50 or older if you have a disability).
  • A divorced spouse (in special cases).
  • An unmarried child of the person who has died that is under the age of 18 or as old as 19 if the child is still attending elementary or secondary school full-time.
  • A stepchild, grandchild, adopted child, or step-grandchild (in special cases).
  • Parents of the person who has died if they were dependent on their child for half of their financial support (62 or older).

How much can I expect to get from the survivor’s benefits from social security? 

As stated by the SSA, how much you can expect the benefit amount to be depends on how long the person who died paid into social security before their death. If the person who died had worked long enough, you can also apply for a “death payment” for up to two years after the death.

There are situations in which you can disqualify for benefits (for example, if a spouse remarries before a certain point). Every situation is different. Therefore, it’s important to check with a social security representative as well as an attorney for social security survivor benefits to get the financial support you’re entitled to.

Can I sue the person or company responsible if my loved one’s passing was a wrongful death? 

Yes. According to Colorado’s wrongful death statute, when a person has been killed (or severely injured) due to the fault of someone else or negligence by a person or company, that person or company can be sued for compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit so that you can properly understand your rights under these horrible circumstances.

For a thorough background on what to expect and how to handle the dreadful situation of losing a loved one to such circumstances, you can also read attorney Kyle Bachus’ Amazon best-selling book “Unthinkable.” 

How hiring an attorney can help you

lawyer and client going over social security paper work

Hiring an attorney for social security survivor benefits allows someone else to worry about the paperwork, legal actions, and other concerns so that you can focus more on grieving. It also allows you to get the maximum amount you’re entitled to from someone who understands how this process works.

In the event of a wrongful death, hiring a personal injury attorney is vital, considering that you and your attorney will be responsible for the burden of proof (proving the wrongdoings that resulted in your loved one’s death). An attorney is skilled with such proceedings and is more likely to get you the financial compensation you deserve, not only in lost wages and other damages but also in pain and suffering. The Elite Litigation Group at Bachus and Schanker can provide you with the best wrongful death attorney for your case.

Losing someone close to you is always difficult. Finding a personal injury attorney to help you manage this seemingly impossible time can make all the difference. Seeking the help of a skilled lawyer can get you the financial restitution you deserve, either through social security or legal action.


Colorado. (2022).

C.R.S. 13-21-202 

Social Security Benefits.

Survivors Benefits. (2022). 

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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.