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Do survivor benefits expire if you don't claim them at the earliest eligibility age?

En español | No. There is no time limit to file for a widow or widower benefit. These benefits will actually grow if you delay claiming them until you reach full retirement age.

However, there is a time limit to collect the lump-sum death benefit. This is a one-time payment of $255. To receive this payment, you must file the application (by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visiting your local office) within a two-year period. Normally, this period ends with the second anniversary of the person's death.

[Editor’s note: Local Social Security offices are currently closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Social Security services are available online and by phone. If you have a "dire need situation" regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment. See Social Security's coronavirus page or call your local office for more information.]

Updated October 26, 2020

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