Social Security Survivors Benefits FAQs with Rivky Posner and Shira Nabatian

Rivky Posner is CFO of Hamodia and Binah Magazine. She is chairman of the Legally Links Social Security Division.

Shira Nabatian is a community organizer within the Jewish community. She is a member of the Legally Links Social Security Division.

Note: The responses below pertain to Social Security survivors benefits. These are not to be confused with Social Security retirement benefits, which are available to retired individuals age 62 and above. Survivors benefits are for individuals who lost a loved one and, based on factors indicated below, are eligible for this benefit.

Legally Links is available to help surviving spouses and children. Please do not hesitate to reach out to

Who’s eligible to receive Social Security survivors benefits?

Widows and widowers, sometimes ex-spouses, children under 18, disabled children, and dependent parents of a deceased individual who was working and paying social security taxes. 

When should I file for benefits?

It’s important to file as soon as possible after the loved one’s death as you will only receive payments from the time you file for benefits. Social Security does not provide benefits retroactively from the date of death. 

How much are the expected monthly payouts?

Payments vary based on the amount your loved one was earning. The more the individual was paying into Social Security, the more benefits you will receive.

Are Social Security payments for life?

Generally, payments are only made while the deceased’s children are under 18 (unless there is a disability involved). They may resume again when the deceased’s spouse reaches retirement age.

How long must my spouse have been working?

Generally, the deceased must have paid into Social Security for a minimum of 10 years. However, actual benefits vary based on how old the deceased was at the time of death. 

What if my spouse died in their 20s or 30s and didn’t pay into Social Security for many years?

You may still be eligible to receive benefits. Social Security has special rules to provide benefits for the family and spouse of those who died young, which will be determined when applying for benefits.

Will Legally Links be on the phone with me when I call Social Security to apply for survivors benefits?

Legally Links is available to be on the phone with you for the application to Social Security, if you so desire. 

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