It’s said that there is no worse prospect in life than that a parent should have to bury her child. That it should happen while the child is still young or later in adult life there is little that can alleviate the agony of the experience. Social Security have made some acknowledgement that such events do happen and have created a form of Survivor’s Benefits for certain parents dealing, not with the grief, but with the financial burden of the loss of their child.
Parent’s Benefits are not available to anyone and everyone that loses their child. There are a number of other criteria that are factored in, and which have all to be met, meaning that there are actually very few parents who will end up receiving this benefit.
Beyond the horrible crucial criterion of the death of a worker with a living parent, that worker has to have accrued enough work credits to meet ‘insured’ status; his parent has to be at least 62. She has to have either non-existent retirement income or, at most, have less in retirement than the amount she would be eligible to receive from her son’s benefit (that amount is calculated to be 82.5% of her son’s full retirement amount; if both parents are still living they each receive 75%). She also has to be the natural parent or have adopted him or become his step-mother before he was 16.
Even when all those boxes are checked there then comes the final determinant: the parent also has to have been receiving at least ‘one-half support’ from her child. That means that before he died her son must have not only been helping her pay for food, shelter and general living costs but his contribution needs to have at least matched the income she received from other sources. Even then, if that is the case, she will need to have the documentation to prove it or she gets nothing.
In essence, while there are a few benefits out there that you’d rather never have to need to apply for, this may be the one you would most like to avoid.
To read Social Security’s pamphlet on the subject you can go here: Parent’s Benefits (ssa.gov)