The following information is derived from the Social Security Website.

Social Security Retirement Benefits are not effected by payments to an individual of structured settlement payments.


When a worker dies, certain family members may be eligible for survivors benefits based on his/her record if the worker had enough Social Security earnings credits. For many survivor cases, the number of required earnings credits is based on on the worker's age at the time of death. In general, younger workers need fewer earnings credits than older workers. However, no worker needs more than 40 earnings credits (10 years of work) to be fully insured for any Social Security benefit.  Please see Benefits page.

Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:

  • A widow/widower-full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60.
  • A disabled widow/widower may receive benefits as early as age 50.
  • A widow/widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased's child under age 16 or disabled, who receives Social Security benefits.
  • Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time. A child can receive benefits at any age if he or she was disabled before age 22 and remains disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits can also be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
  • Dependent parents at 62 or older.
  • A former spouse can receive benefits under the same circumstances as a widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is 60 or older will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors receiving benefits.
  • A widow/widower cannot receive benefits if he/she remarries before the age of 60 (50 if disabled) unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce, or annulment. However, remarriage after age 60 (50 if disabled) will not prevent payments on a former spouse's record.

Amount of Benefit:

The amount of the survivors benefit is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more he or she paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits will be. The amount a survivor receives is a percentage of the deceased's basic Social Security benefit. The following provides the most typical situations:

  • Widow or widower full retirement age or older-100 percent.
  • Widow or widower age 60 to 64-about 71 - 94 percent.
  • Widow or widower at any age with a child under age 16 - 75 percent.
  • Children - 75 percent.
  • If a person is receiving widow/widower's benefits, they can switch to their own retirement benefits (assuming they are eligible and their retirement rate is higher than the widow/widower's rate) as early as age 62. In many cases, a widow/widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate at full retirement age. However, they will not be paid both benefits - they will be paid the higher of the two benefits.

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