My friend and her dependent daughters have recently suffered the loss of their main provider (the husband and father). He was young but paid into SS for some time. The death was a suicide.
My friend is 40 yrs old.
I am trying to help her by understanding what she is eligible for as far as benefits go. I would be grateful to hear your take on this.
If your friend's husband paid into Social Security long enough to be insured for survivor benefits, both she and her minor children may be able to receive benefits right away. Children of a deceased parent can be paid child benefits up until age 18, or from 18 to 19 if still attending high school, and at any age if they become disabled prior to age 22 (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0410.html). And, a surviving spouse can receive mother's or father's benefits regardless of their age if they have an eligible child of the deceased spouse in their care and the child is either under age 16 or disabled.
Surviving children and mothers or fathers with eligible children in their care can each be paid up to 75% of the deceased worker's primary insurance amount (PIA). However, there is a family maximum benefit rate that could reduce the amount of their payments to less than the full 75% depending on how many family members qualify for benefits.
If your friend hasn't already done so she should probably contact Social Security as soon as possible to find out if she and her children are eligible for survivor benefits, and if so to apply for those benefits.