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When a husband dies does the wife get his Social Security?

When a spouse who has paid into or is receiving Social Security, passes away, they are able to claim their benefits. Our team took a look at how.

When a spouse who has paid into or is receiving Social Security, passes away, they are able to claim their benefits. Our team took a look at how.

Around 11 percent of the payments made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are directed towards spouses or dependents of deceased workers. If a person eligible to or does receive Social Security benefits dies, the law states that their family can claim them.

Who can claim benefits?

Various factors contribute to the determination of the number of benefits that will be paid.


Generally, the SSA will pay the benefits to a qualifying widow/widower.  Those with disabilities will be able to claim the benefits imminently so long as they have been disabled for at least seven years.

Children and other family members

If there is no spouse, the benefits can be distributed to an unmarried child of the deceased under eighteen years of age. In other instances, the SSA will allow that grandchild, stepchildren, and other relatives to claim the benefits. If a child of the deceased became disabled before twenty-two years old, they would be able to claim benefits at any age.

Applying for survivor benefits

The SSA urges those who believe they would be eligible to receive survivor's benefits to do so quickly as many of the payments are not retroactive.

To begin the process, one must fill out an application. Then, once the SSA has received a death certificate, they transfer the benefits over to the spouse or child's name. The SSA recommends providing the funeral home with the deceased Social Security Number to report the death easily.

In some cases, rather than making monthly payments, the SSA can offer a "Special Lump-Sum Death Payment." The payment is worth $225 and is typically "paid to the surviving spouse who was living in the same household as the worker when they died."

For those eligible or receiving Social Security benefits themselves, the SSA says that they will determine "whether you can get a higher benefit as a widow or widower."

Benefit Amounts

The benefit amount depends on the age and/or disability of the survivor.

For widows and widowers who are of retirement can claim one hundred percent of benefits. Those who are sixty years old are entitled to anywhere between 71.5 to 99 percent of the benefits. A disabled spouse over the age of fifty and fifty-nine can claim 71.5 percent. Any other spouse of a deceased worker over sixteen will be allowed to claim 75 percent. Children of a deceased beneficiary are also entitled to 75 percent of the benefit amount.


For those looking to apply to the SSA, a phone line --1-800-772-1213- is available to walk them through the process. The phone line is open weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. 

One can also visit as SSA field office to speak with a representative about their case in person. Making an appointment I not necessary but can expedite the process.


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