You, or Your Family Members, May Be Eligible for Increased Benefits

Our mission is to deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public.

It's not unusual for a benefit recipient's circumstances to change after they apply or became eligible for benefits. If you, or a family member, receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), certain life changes may affect eligibility for an increase in your federal benefits. For example, if your spouse or ex-spouse dies, you may become eligible for a higher Social Security benefit.

To find out if you, or a family member, might be eligible for a benefit based on another person’s work, or a higher benefit based on your own work, see the information about benefits on the Social Security website. You can also use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) to find out if you could get benefits that Social Security administers. Based on your answers to questions, this tool will list benefits for which you might be eligible and tell you more information about how to qualify and apply.

The questions and answers below are about a few of the life changes that could possibly increase your benefits.

Has your spouse or ex-spouse died?

If your spouse or ex-spouse has died, you may be eligible for a higher survivor benefit based on his or her work.

Is your adult child who was helping to support you deceased?

If your child had enough work credits and was providing at least half of your support, you may be eligible for a higher parent's benefit based on his or her work.

Are you receiving Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s work?

If you have worked, you may be eligible for a higher retirement benefit based on your own work.

Are you receiving Social Security benefits based on your parent’s work?

If you have worked, you may be eligible for a higher disability benefit based on your own work.

Are you currently unmarried but formerly married for 10 years or more?

If you are at least 62 years old and unmarried, you may be eligible for a benefit based on a former spouse’s work if that marriage lasted 10 years or more.

Is your child entitled to Social Security child's benefits based on your spouse's work?

You may be eligible for spouse's benefits if you have in your care a child who is under age 16 or disabled prior to age 22.

Are you currently entitled to retirement or disability benefits and have a child in your care who is under age 18 or disabled?

Your child may be eligible for benefits based on your work.

Are you receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security benefits and have past military service?

If you served in the U.S. military, you may be eligible for benefits through the Veterans Administration. Visit this link for more information: http://www.va.gov/

Are you receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and have a parent who is deceased or receiving Social Security benefits?

If you are unmarried and under age 18 or were disabled prior to age 22, and your parent is deceased or receiving Social Security benefits, you may be eligible for child benefits based on your parent’s work.

Has your income declined or have you experienced a loss of financial resources?

You may be able to get additional income through the Supplemental Security Income program, which helps seniors and the disabled who have limited income and financial resources.

IMPORTANT: If you are receiving benefits, there are certain life events that you are required to report. For a complete list, please select the publication below that applies to the type of benefits you receive.

NOTE: Failure to report a change may result in an overpayment.

What You Need To Know When You Get Retirement Or Survivors Benefits
(Pages 7-13)

What You Need To Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits
(Pages 11-18)

What You Need To Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
(Pages 7-19)

Contacting Social Security

Our website is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Security's programs. There are a number of things you can do online.

In addition to using our website, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. We treat all calls confidentially. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call during the week after Tuesday. We can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. (You can use our automated response system to tell us a new address or request a replacement Medicare card.) If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

We also want to make sure you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some telephone calls.