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Can the parents of a deceased worker get survivor benefits?    

Yes, if they can show that they were financially dependent on their offspring (that is, the late son or daughter was providing at least half of their financial support).

The parents must be at least 62 to claim survivor benefits. The deceased need not have reached retirement age, or have even filed for Social Security. What matters is whether the child who was supporting them had qualified for Social Security by virtue of his or her work record. For example, if a wage earner dies at 45 and had collected the requisite 40 credits to qualify for Social Security, his or her parents can seek survivor benefits.

Two surviving parents would each receive 75 percent of the deceased’s Social Security benefit at the time of death. If there is only one surviving parent, he or she would get 82.5 percent of the deceased’s benefit. If the parent is also collecting retirement benefits, he or she would not get that and the survivor benefit combined; Social Security would pay the higher of the two amounts.

Keep in mind

Payments to the late beneficiary’s parents count in computing the family maximum benefit, the ceiling on Social Security benefits a family can receive based on one person’s earnings record.

Published October 10, 2018