Survivor's Benefits for dependent parents

Survivor’s Benefit for Dependent Parents

Survivor’s benefits for parents are probably the least known Social Security benefit available. In keeping with Social Security benefits being a family benefit, parents who rely on their child for support may be eligible to draw a benefit from their SSA account if that child dies.

Funding Source

Survivor’s benefits for parents are paid by the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund. Funds are collected through employer and employee contributions, commonly known as “FICA taxes” “payroll taxes” or “Social Security taxes”. Funds are allocated to this Fund and the Disability Insurance Fund and that allocation is set by law. Over the years, Congress has changed this allocation to account to assure continued solvency of either fund.

In 2012, individuals pay 4.2% of their earnings up to $110,100 and employers pay 6.2% of the individual income up to the same amount. The 2% differential, known as the “payroll tax holiday”, is set to expire after 2011 and individuals will pay 6.2% again. In 2012, self-employed individuals pay 10.4% of their earnings, down 2% as well. The “payroll tax holiday” is currently being funded by general revenues.


  • 62 or older
  • Parent of child who died after having worked and earned enough credits
  • Relied on the deceased child for over one-half of support

How Benefit Amount is Calculated

In general, parent survivors receive a percentage of the deceased’s basic Social Security benefit, usually 75 to 82.5% percent each. There is a maximum family benefit that is usually 150% to 180% of the basic Social Security benefit amount. The total of each individual family members benefit cannot exceed this amount and benefits will be adjusted accordingly.