Social Security Survivors Insurance


To replace part of the earnings lost to dependents because of the worker's death.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Social Security Administration
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
C - Direct Payments For Specified Use; D - Direct Payments With Unrestricted Use
Program Accomplishments
Not applicable.
Social Security Act of 1935, Title II, as amended, Title II, 42 U.S.C. 401-433
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Benefits are payable only if the deceased was insured for survivors insurance protection. Coverage credits under the social security systems of certain foreign countries with which the U.S. has reciprocal agreements may be taken into account to meet the requirements. Survivors eligible for monthly cash benefits are the following: widows or widowers age 60 or over; surviving divorced spouses age 60 or over (married to the deceased worker for at least 10 years); disabled widows, widowers or surviving divorced spouses ages 50- 59; widows, widowers, or surviving divorced spouses at any age who have in their care a child under age 16 or disabled and entitled to benefits on the deceased worker's Social Security record; unmarried children under age 18, under age 19 and a full time student in elementary or secondary school; or age 18 or older and under a disability which began before age 22; and dependent parents age 62 and over. All survivors benefits, other than for beneficiaries at full retirement age (FRA) or older, are subject to an earnings test. Beginning with the year 2000, the retirement earnings test was eliminated beginning with the month in which the beneficiary reaches FRA. A person at and above FRA will not have Social Security benefits reduced because of earnings. In the calendar year in which a beneficiary reaches FRA, benefits are reduced $1 for every $3 of earnings above the limit allowed by law, $44,880 in 2017, but this reduction is applied only to months prior to attainment of FRA. For years before the year the beneficiary attains FRA, the reduction in benefits is $1 for every $2 of earnings over the annual exempt amount, $16,920 in 2017 . Except for benefits to children and dependent parents, all survivors benefits are subject to a pension offset if the person is also receiving a governmental pension based on his or her own work in non-covered employment. However, the offset does not apply: (1) If the person receives, or is eligible to receive, the pension before December 1, 1982, and can meet the requirements for the Social Security auxiliary's benefit as they existed in January 1977; or (2) if the person receives, or is eligible to receive, the pension before July 1, 1983, and the person was dependent on his or her spouse for at least one-half support at the time the spouse died, became disabled or became entitled to Social Security benefits; or 3) if the last 60 months of a person's government service before retirement was covered by both Social Security and the pension plan that provides the government pension. The amount of the public pension used for purposes of the offset against Social Security survivor's benefits is equal to two-thirds of the public pension. Benefits for widows/widowers and surviving divorced spouses are also offset dollar for dollar by any Social Security benefit the surviving spouse receives based on his or her own work. Under certain conditions, a lump-sum death payment of $255 is payable to the widow or children of the deceased worker. Further, no benefit can be paid to an alien in the United States unless he is lawfully present in the United States. Also, an alien cannot qualify for benefits if he or she never had a work-authorized Social Security Number (SSN) (effective for benefit applications based on SSNs issued after 2003).
Beneficiary Eligibility
Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses age 60 or over are entitled as long as the worker met the insurance requirements. Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses also qualify at any age if they have entitled children of the worker under age 16 or disabled children in their care; unmarried children: under age 18, under age 19 and a full-time student in elementary or secondary school or age 18 or older and under a disability which began before age 22; and dependent parents age 62 and over. To claim benefits as disabled widows, widowers, or surviving divorced spouses, individuals ages 50-59 must show that they have a disability that started no later than 7 years after the insured died or 7 years after certain other events. "Disability" currently has the same meaning for these entitlements as it does for workers who claim disability insurance (see 96.001). As in worker disability claims, there is also a 5-month waiting period after the disability began before benefits begin and entitlement to Medicare after 24 months of entitlement to benefits. Children of the worker claiming benefits because of disability are also subject to the definition of disability used for workers and must show that they have been disabled since before they reached age 22. There is no waiting period for these benefits.
Social Security number, proof of death, age, and relationship. For certain auxiliaries, proof of support may be required.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Call toll free at 1 (800) 772-1213 or telephone or visit the local Social Security Office.
Award Procedure
After review of the application is completed, the applicant (or representative payee) will be notified by mail.
January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 Retroactivity is limited to 6 months if unreduced benefits are being awarded. Other than a minor exception that permits one-month retroactivity if the widow(er) files for benefits in the month after the month of the worker's death, no retroactivity is provided in most cases when reduced benefits are being awarded. For disabled surviving spouses and disabled surviving divorced spouses, benefits may be retroactive for up to 12 months.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
Not applicable.
How may assistance be used?
Monthly cash benefits are paid to eligible family members of deceased workers. There are no restrictions on the use of benefits, although the right to future benefits is not transferable or assignable. The Federal government gives the States funds, in advance or by way of reimbursement, for necessary costs in making disability determinations under 20 CFR part 404 subparts P and Q. Necessary costs are direct as well as indirect costs as defined in 41 CFR Part 1-15, Subpart 1-15.7 of the Federal Procurement Regulations System for costs incurred before April 1, 1984; and 48 CFR 31, Subpart 31.6 of the Federal Acquisition Regulations System and Federal Management Circular A-74-4 as amended or superseded for costs incurred after March 31, 1984.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Not applicable See local office.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Consult Appendix IV of the Catalog.
Headquarters Office
Room 4100, Annex, Social Security Administration
Baltimore , MD 21235 US
Phone: 1-800-772-1213
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use) FY 17 Estimate Not Available FY 18 Estimate Not Available FY 16 Estimate Not Available
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Not applicable/available.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Not applicable.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not applicable.