Survivor Benefits

Survivor Benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits

When a disabled adult who is receiving Social Security Disability benefits dies, his or her benefits may be payable to a dependent. These dependents include a surviving spouse, children, adult disabled children, ex spouse, or dependent parents.

Surviving Spouses

If you are a surviving spouse of a deceased disabled adult who was receiving Social Security Disability benefits at the time of his or her death, the amount of your benefit will change depending on your situation at the time of your spouse’s death. The following categories explain the types of situations and the percentage of your deceased spouse’s Social Security Disability benefits you are eligible to receive.

  • If you take care of your child who is under the age of 16 years old and who also receives survivor Social Security Disability benefits from your deceased spouse you will receive 75% of your deceased spouse’s Social Security Disability benefits.

  • If you are at least 50 years old and disabled and your disability started before your spouse died or within seven years of your spouse’s death you will receive 71.5% of your deceased spouse’s Social Security Disability benefits.

  • If you are at least 60 years old but not yet full retirement age you will receive 71.5% - 99% of your deceased spouse’s Social Security Disability benefits.

  • If you are at least full retirement age you will receive 100% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.

Children

If you are a child of a parent who died while receiving Social Security Disability benefits, you may be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits. Social Security includes natural children, adopted children, and stepchildren as children of a parent.

In order to receive survivor benefits as a child, you must be:

  • unmarried, and

  • younger than 18 years old.

You will receive 75% of your deceased parent’s Social Security Disability benefit until the month before you turn 18 years old.

Adult Children

If you are an adult child of a parent who died while receiving Social Security Disability benefits, you may be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits under two circumstances:

  • You are under 19 years old and a full-time student in high school

  • You are disabled and you became disabled before the age of 22.

If you fall into one of these two categories, you will receive 75% of your deceased parent’s SSDI benefit, the same as children under 18. If you fall into the first category, your benefits will end when you finish high school or two months after turning 19, whichever comes first. If you fall into the second category, you will receive benefits for as long as you are disabled.

Grandchildren

If you are a grandchild of a grandparent who was receiving Social Security Disability benefits at the time of his or her death, you may be eligible to receive survivor benefits under limited circumstances.

  • Your biological parents are deceased or disabled and are not making regular contributions to support you.

  • You began living with your grandparent before the age of 18 years old and your grandparent provided at least half of your support for 12 months before his or her death.

  • For babies under 12 months old, the infant has lived with the grandparent for substantially all of his or her life and the grandparent provided at least half of the infant's support.

If you fall into one of these categories, you will receive 75% of your grandparent’s Social Security Disability benefit until the month before you turn 18.

Elderly Parents

If your disabled child was providing substantial support to you as an elderly parent, you may be eligible to receive a percentage of their Social Security Disability benefits if they die. You may be eligible to receive benefits if:

  • Your disabled child provided at least half of your support at the time of their death.

  • You are at least 62 years old.

  • You have not married since your disabled child’s death, and

  • You are not entitled to your own Social Security benefits that would be higher than the benefit you would receive based on your deceased child's earnings record.

If you are the only surviving parent, you will receive 82.5% of your deceased child’s SSDI benefits. If there are two surviving parents, each parent will receive 75% of the deceased child’s SSDI benefit. To learn more about survivor benefits and how they affect your social security disability claim, contact the experienced Costa Mesa attorneys at Howard Law, PC.