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En español | Social Security is not just a guaranteed income for retired workers; it's also a form of insurance for families when those workers die. Today, Social Security pays monthly survivor benefits to more than 4 million widows and widowers (including divorced former spouses) and nearly 1.9 million children of deceased wage earners.
In the AARP Social Security Resource Center, you’ll find practical information about how Social Security works when a worker dies, including:
Q: How to report a death to Social Security
Q: How does Social Security work when a spouse dies?
Q: Who gets a Social Security death benefit?
Q: Do survivor benefits expire if you don't claim them at the earliest eligibility age?
Q: How do survivor benefits work?
Q: How long do Social Security survivor benefits last?
Q: My spouse died last month. Do I have to return the Social Security payment sent to the bank this month?
Q: How do I make the change from Social Security survivor benefits to my Social Security retirement benefit?
Q: What are my options if I am eligible for both a Social Security retirement benefit and a survivor benefit?
Q: Does the age I start my Social Security retirement benefit affect the amount my spouse will collect when I die?
Q: How does Social Security calculate the survivor benefit if my spouse dies before claiming Social Security?
Q: If I am getting a pension, can I still collect Social Security survivor benefits?
Q: Are survivor benefits reduced for a Postal Service employee's survivor?
Q: Can I collect both my own retirement benefit when I turn 62 and a survivor benefit?
Q: When people die before applying for benefits, what happens to the money they contributed to Social Security?
Q: My Social Security benefit is reduced because I collect a government pension. Will my spouse's survivor benefits be reduced too?
Q: Can Social Security benefits go to the estates of beneficiaries who've died?
Q: Can the parents of a deceased Social Security recipient get survivor benefits?
Q: Can my children get my Social Security benefits when I die?
Q: Can children who collected survivor benefits continue to receive the money while in college?
Q: Can I collect Social Security survivor benefits if my former spouse dies?
Q: Can I collect my deceased spouse's Social Security and my own at the same time?
Q: What happens to my Social Security survivor benefits if I remarry?
Q: Can I collect Social Security survivor benefits as a divorced spouse and wait to claim my own retirement benefit?
Q: I'm receiving survivor benefits on my late husband's record. Can I switch to spousal benefits on my ex-husband's record?
Q: I was widowed from my first husband and divorced from my second. Can I claim benefits on either one's record?
Q: If my former spouse remarried and later dies, who is eligible for his Social Security benefits?
Didn't find the answer to your Social Security question? Submit your question here.
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