Can My Spouse Receive My Benefits After My Death?


Many people wonder what will happen to their workers’ compensation or Social Security disability benefits if they die before collecting the total amount they’re eligible to receive. Some families depend on weekly or monthly payments to afford living expenses, such as housing, food, and other bills. It is overwhelming to think about whether your family will receive the support they need if you pass away.

Fortunately, surviving family members, such as spouses and children, are entitled to certain benefits through Social Security disability or workers’ compensation insurance. They can recover payments based on eligibility requirements and additional factors. Benefits could assist dependent relatives with funeral costs, lost wages, and other expenses.

Knowing your spouse will be taken care of after you die can provide peace of mind. It’s critical to understand their rights and the procedure for applying for benefits. Discussing how they can prepare for a possible claim is necessary to secure their financial future.

If you have questions particular to your case, give us a call at 516-496-0400, or reach out to us online. We’re here for you.

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Applying for Survivor Benefits

The Social Security Administration and workers’ compensation insurance companies often offer survivor benefits. A surviving spouse can apply after the death of an injured or sick worker collecting these benefits. Eligibility requirements and the process of filing a claim differ depending on which benefits your spouse pursues.

Social Security Disability

Your spouse could apply for survivors benefits upon your death if they meet at least one of the requirements below:

  • At least 60 years old or 50 or older if they have a disability
  • Divorced spouse if specific circumstances apply
  • Any age, has not remarried and is caring for your child under 16 years old or who has a disability and collects the child’s benefits

The surviving spouse must notify the Social Security Administration of the death promptly. Typically, the funeral home can report the death if they have the deceased’s Social Security number.

A surviving spouse could collect a one-time lump-sum payment if they lived with the deceased at the time of the death. As long as the worker paid Social Security taxes and worked long enough, the surviving spouse can also receive monthly benefit payments based on their age and specific circumstances, such as:

  • Surviving spouse at full retirement age or older – 100% of disability benefits
  • Surviving spouse at 60 years old – 71 ½ to 99% of benefits
  • Surviving spouse at 50 to 59 years old with a disability – 71 ½% of benefits
  • Surviving spouse at any age and caring for a minor under 16 years old – 75% of benefits

A divorced spouse who hasn’t remarried can also collect monthly benefit payments at the percentages above based on the circumstances that apply.

Benefits typically end if the surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse remarries before turning 60 years old or 50 years old if they have a disability. However, if the surviving or divorced spouse remarries after turning 60 years old, they could remain eligible for their deceased spouse’s Social Security disability benefits.

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Workers’ Compensation

Your spouse might be entitled to survivor benefits if you received benefits for an on-the-job injury or illness. Payments for lost wages are two-thirds of your average weekly wage for 52 weeks before the workplace accident.

However, if you share children, your spouse will receive up to 36 2/3% of your average weekly wages, with the remaining 30% split equally among your surviving kids.

The weekly payments your spouse receives cannot exceed the maximum limit set by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Additionally, they can collect a two-year lump-sum payment if they remarry. At that time, weekly benefit coverage will end.

Compensation for memorial or funeral expenses is also available. The maximum amount allowed is $12,500 if your spouse resides in any of the counties below:

  • Nassau
  • Queens
  • Bronx
  • New York
  • Rockland
  • Westchester
  • Kings
  • Richmond
  • Suffolk

All other counties in New York limit memorial or funeral compensation to $10,500.

If you have pressing questions about your case, reach out to us today. We have the experience to help.

Contact Us

Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. understands your concerns regarding your spouse’s future. When you’re out of work and collecting benefits to support your family, you worry about what will happen to you if you pass away. You want to ensure your spouse will have the financial means to support themselves and your kids or other dependents.

We have represented injured workers and their families for over 40 years. You will receive the legal support and guidance necessary to navigate the complicated process of securing benefits through workers’ compensation or Social Security disability.

You can depend on our New York workers’ compensation and Social Security disability lawyers to protect your spouse’s rights and pursue the maximum benefits available on their behalf. Call us at 516-496-0400, or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about survivor benefits and what we can do for your family.


Last Updated : May 10, 2022