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How Much Would Your Survivors Receive?

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How much your family would receive in benefits depends on your average lifetime earnings. The higher your earnings were, the higher their benefits would be. We calculate a basic amount as if you had reached full retirement age at the time you die. (If you already receive benefits when you die, survivor benefits are based on that amount.)

These are examples of benefit payments:

  • Widow or widower, full retirement age or older--100 percent of your benefit amount;
  • Widow or widower, age 60 to full retirement age -- 71.5 to 99 percent of your basic amount;
  • Disabled widow or widower, age 50 through 59 -- 71.5 percent;
  • Widow or widower, any age, caring for a child under age 16 -- 75 percent.
  • A child under age 18 (19 if still in elementary or secondary school) or disabled -- 75 percent.

Percentages for a surviving divorced spouse would be the same as above.

There is a maximum amount your family can receive together. There also may be a special lump-sum death payment.

Check our Benefit Calculators for an estimate of the benefits your family could receive if you died right now.

These benefits may be affected if your widow or widower remarries. Also, there are limits on how much your survivors may earn while they receive benefits.

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Last reviewed or modified Tuesday Jul 22, 2008
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