Strong families survive, and Social Security can help

As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reminds us, strong families share many valuable qualities: trust, commitment, communication, growth, affection, fun, and love.

Strong families are more likely to grow through a crisis, allowing the difficult experience to bring them even closer together.

In the unfortunate event of a family member’s death, we want you to know that Social Security is here to help.  In addition to the emotional difficulty family members’ experience, there is often a financial burden as well, especially if the family’s main wage earner dies.  In such cases, Social Security survivor benefits will help.

Did you know that nearly every child in America could get Social Security survivors benefits if a working parent dies?  In addition, Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program.

Although many people think Social Security is just a retirement program, you should know that Social Security also provides survivors insurance benefits for workers and their families.  If you’re like most people, the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security is probably more than the value of any individual life insurance you may own.  Moreover, you don’t even need to sign up for a separate policy; by working and paying Social Security tax, you are most likely already insured without even knowing it.

Family members who may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work record include a widow or widower, unmarried children up to age 19 and still in high school, and under certain circumstances, stepchildren, grandchildren, step grandchildren, adopted children, and dependent parents.

If you’d like to learn more about survivor benefits, and how to apply, you should read our publication, Survivors Benefits, available at

You can find additional useful information, such as our survivors’ planner and information about how to apply for survivors benefits, at

Kirk Larson wrote this article. He is a Social Security public affairs specialist for western Washington.