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Social Security Death Benefits

Social Security Administration (SSA) should be notified as soon as possible when a person passes away. In most cases, the funeral director you are working with can assist you. The following information is designed to help you understand what benefits are available and how to apply for them correctly.

Who Is Eligible?

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
  • A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child under age 16 or disabled;
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 ifhe or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22
  • A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild or adopted child under certain circumstances
  • Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support
  • A surviving divorced spouse (under certain circumstances)

Lump-Sum Death Payment

In addition to any monthly Social Security benefits to which the survivors may be entitled, a surviving spouse or child may receive a special lump-sum death payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements.

  • If the surviving spouse was living in the same household with the worker when he or she died, the surviving spouse is eligible to receive the payment.
  • If they were living apart, the surviving spouse can still receive the lump-sum if, during the month the worker died, he or she was already receiving benefits on the worker’s record, or became eligible for benefits upon the worker’s death.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, the lump-sum payment will go to the worker’s child or children if, during the month the worker died, the child/children was already receiving benefits on the worker’s record, or became eligible for benefits upon the worker’s death

To obtain the form to apply for lump-sum death benefit, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ssa-8.html

How to Apply For Benefits

If you are not already receiving Social Security benefits, it is important to apply promptly because benefits may be paid from the time you apply, rather than the time the worker died. You can apply by telephone or at any Social Security office. You will need to provide the following information to apply for survivor’s benefits:

  • Proof of death—either from a funeral home or death certificate
  • The deceased worker’s Social Security number
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate (if applying as a widow or widower)
  • Your divorce papers (if applying as a divorced widow or widower)
  • Dependent children’s Social Security numbers and birth certificates
  • Deceased worker’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year
  • The name of your bank and your account number so benefits can be deposited directly into your account

File for Benefits Early

It is important to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible after the death of a family member. This will help to ensure that the survivors receive all the benefits they may be entitled to collect. In most cases, the funeral director you are working with can assist you in filing a benefit claim.

Contact Social Security

For more information, contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

To find your local Social Security office online, visit : https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

For more information on how Social Security can help you after a family member dies, visit http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10008.pdf