En español | The money that people contribute is a tax that goes into the Social Security trust funds, from which current beneficiaries are paid. Those payments cannot be refunded to the family when an eligible worker dies before filing for benefits.
However, certain family members may qualify for survivor benefits, regardless of the late worker's filing status. These include a widow or widower, a former spouse, dependent parents, and children if they are below certain ages or disabled.
Published October 10, 2018