Definition of Eligible Survivor
The eligible survivor can be both a lawful spouse who is eligible for benefits or a dependent child. The conditions to be an eligible survivor depend on the benefits awarded. The term is most frequently used to describe the survivor who is eligible to receive Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits.
According to the SSA, to be an eligible survivor for SSA benefits you must be an unmarried widow or widower or surviving divorced spouse. If you have reached your full retirement age you may receive full benefits or reduced benefits as early as age 60. A disabled or an unmarried widow or widower or surviving divorced spouse who is age 50 or greater may also receive survivor benefits. You can also receive benefits if you are an unmarried widow or widower or surviving divorced spouse of any age if you are taking care of the deceased worker's child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits.
Children who are not married and who are under the age of 18 or who are unmarried and are 18 or 19 years old and attending high school are also considered an eligible survivor. Under certain circumstances, Social Security can pay benefits to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children. Unmarried disabled adult children can receive benefits if they became disabled before age 22, and dependent parents age 62 or older can receive benefits.