published Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Social Security: Survivor benefits aid many dependents

By Gregory Holmes
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    Gregory Holmes, district manager for Social Security

In June we celebrate National Family Month, which is a great time to reflect on your family and how to make it stronger. 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 survivors benefits will help.

Did you know that nearly every child in America could get Social Security survivors benefits if a working parent dies? And 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. And 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, stepgrandchildren, adopted children, and dependent parents.

If you'd like to learn more about survivors benefits, and how to apply, you should read our publication, Survivors Benefits, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. You can find additional useful information, such as our survivors planner and information about how to apply for survivors benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/survivors.htm.

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Gregory Holmes by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by email at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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