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Survivors Benefits

How To Apply For Survivors Benefits If You Aren't Currently Getting Social Security Benefits

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We suggest that you apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive. You can apply by telephone or at any Social Security office.

Social Security will need certain information to process your application. It's helpful if you have it when you apply. However, don't delay applying if you don't have everything. Social Security will help you get it.

Social Security needs either original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them of:

  • Proof of death - either from a funeral home or a death certificate.
  • Social Security number for the survivor as well as the deceased worker.
  • Survivor's birth certificate.
  • A marriage certificate if the survivor is a widow or widower.
  • Divorce papers if the survivor is applying as a surviving divorced spouse.
  • If filing as a dependent child, Social Security numbers, if available, for each child.
  • The deceased worker's W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year.
  • The name of the survivor's bank and account number so benefits can be directly deposited into your account. (See Alternative Ways To Receive Social Security Benefits.)

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