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The death of a love one especially a wage earner can be overwhelming and frustrating to the survivors. When an individual who has worked and paid into the Social Security dies survivor benefits can be paid to certain family members including widows, widowers, dependent parents and children.

Any benefit the surviving spouse receive stops when the youngest child reaches the age of sixteen and the spouse would no longer be eligible for more benefits until he or she reaches the age of sixty. If the couple has been divorced, the spouse can get benefits under the same circumstances as the widow or widower if the marriage lasted ten years or more. The benefits that a child receives stop when he reaches the age of eighteen or nineteen if a full time student unless the child is disabled. However, there is a limit to the amount pf money that can be paid to you and other family members each month. The limit varies but is usually equal to about 150 to 180 percent of the deceased benefit rate. Generally, the higher the earnings of the deceased worker the higher your benefit is.

If you are not currently receiving Social Security benefits, you should apply for survivors’ benefits as soon as possible because in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive. When applying for a survivor’s benefit, it is essential to have the following documents:

• Your Social Security number as well as the deceased number
• Your birth certificate
• Proof of death
• Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available
• Deceased workers W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return
• Your divorce papers, if applicable

Social security today pays monthly survivor’s benefit to 7.4 million Americans and almost two million children. Following the death of a wage earner, survivor benefit can help with the financial problems that sometimes follow a worker’s death by providing continuing cash income. The amount of the benefit will depend on certain variable that is why it is best to find out the exact amount from the Social Security Administration.

If you would like to get an approximate of the Social Security survivor’s benefit that you could receive you should contact the Social Security Administration and ask for Form SSA-7004, otherwise known as the Request for Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement. Within a month after you return the form, you will receive a statement showing an estimate of survivor’s benefit and other important information.
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