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Social Security Benefits

Social Security should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. In most cases, the funeral director will report the person's death to Social Security. You will need to furnish the funeral director with the deceased's Social Security number so he or she can make the report. 

Some of the deceased's family members may be able to receive Social Security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits. You should get in touch with Social Security as soon as you can to make sure the family receives all of the benefits to which it may be entitled. Please read the following information carefully to learn what benefits may be available.

  • A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased's record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death.

Certain family members may be eligible to receive monthly benefits, including:

  • 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 if he 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; and

          A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. For example, if the person dies in July, you must return the benefit paid in August. If benefits were paid by direct deposit, contact the bank or other financial institution. Request that any funds received for the month of death or later be returned to Social Security. If the benefits were paid by check, do no cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later. Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible.

However, eligible family members may be able to receive death benefits for the month in which the beneficiary died.

For more information and to find copies of Social Security publications, visit their website at or call toll-free, 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call their TTY number, 1-800-325-0778). All calls are confidential. Social Security answers specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. They can provide automated phone service 24 hours a day.

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


Most of us don't like to talk about death or even think about it. But wouldn't you feel better knowing that, if you were no longer living, Social Security would help take care of your family?

Of course, you would.

If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of the Social Security taxes you pay goes toward survivor’s insurance. In fact, the value of the survivor’s insurance you have under Social Security is probably more than the value of your current life insurance.

And you thought Social Security was just for retirement!

If you are married and both of you are wage earners, you should consider survivors benefits from both perspectives. When you die, members of your family could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings. Planning For Your Survivors explains how you earn benefits and who qualifies for them.

If your spouse or parent dies, you and your family could be eligible to receive benefits based on their earnings. To learn about the survivors benefits that may be available to you, go to If You Are the Survivor.

Responsibility to notify Social Security of a death

Again, many funeral directors voluntarily provide death information directly to Social Security. But, family members of a deceased individual still have the legal responsibility to notify Social Security.

Lump-Sum Death Payment

Who can apply to receive the $255.00 lump-sum death payment after a relative dies?

The lump-sum death benefit of $255 is payable upon the death of a person who has worked long enough to be insured under Social Security.

The one-time lump-sum death payment of 255 is payable to:

  • A surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased person's record; or 
  • If there is no surviving spouse, a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased person' record in the month of death.

If no spouse or child meeting these requirements exists, the lump-sum death payment will not be paid. The lump-sum death payment cannot be paid to funeral homes or estates for funeral expenses.

To file for the benefit, call 1-800-772-1213 { TV -1800-325- 0778} and request an appointment at your local office. You must file the application for the lump-sum death payment within the two-year period ending with the second anniversary of the insured person's death.

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Grief Support

Local Amenities

Social Security Benefits

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