Florida Estate Planning and Probate Law Blog focused on recent case law and planning ideas.


There are few upsides (maybe relief from pain and suffering) to the death of a spouse. In order to ease the burden, the U.S. government offers a few Social Security survivor benefits.

Survivor Benefits: The main benefit for a surviving spouse is that they may be able to receive Social Security payments if their deceased spouse met the requirements to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. If both spouses are collecting Social Security benefits, the surviving spouse will only receive the larger benefit. 

Others eligible for benefits include: spouse of the deceased, aged 60 or older; spouse of the deceased, aged 50 or older, if disabled; spouse of the deceased at any age, if he or she is caring for the deceased's child who is younger than 16 or disabled; an unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than 18, or younger than 20 if still a full-time student in elementary or secondary school or 18 or older and with a disability that began before age 22; a stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, or adopted child under certain circumstances; parents aged 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and a surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.

Death Benefit:  In addition to the benefits described above, a surviving spouse may be eligible for a one-time payment of $255.  Eligibility for the benefit requires the surviving spouse to have been living with the deceased spouse, at their date of death, or, if living apart, to have been receiving benefits based on the deceased spouse's Social Security record.

How to Claim Social Security Survivor Benefits: In order to claim Social Security survivor benefits you must inform the agency of the death of your spouse. Typically, the funeral home will notify the Social Security Administration with regard to the deceased.  In order to contact the Social Security Administration you must either visit your local Social Security office or speak with the agency on the phone (at 800-772-1213). hen speaking with them it is important to also inquire about: (i) survivor benefits; (ii) retirement benefits; and (iii) eligibility for the one-time $255 lump-sum benefit.