Not affiliated with the US Social Security Administration
Here is an excerpt from http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10084.html#3 :
How much will I receive?
The benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more the worker paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits will be.
Social Security uses the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount and calculates what percentage survivors are entitled to. The percentage depends on the survivors’ ages and relationship to the worker. Here are the most typical situations:
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