What are Social Security Death Benefits?
Social Security Death Benefits are paid to widows, widowers, and dependents of a deceased eligible worker. This benefit, meant to assist with a family’s financial burden of losing the lost loved one’s income, is particularly important for young families with children.
Monthly benefit amounts are based on the earnings of the person who died. The more they paid into Social Security, the higher your benefits would be. This amount is a percentage of the deceased’s basic Social Security benefit.
Additionally, a one-time lump-sum death payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she is living with the deceased; or if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record. When there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits.
Who Qualifies for Benefits?
- A widow or widower age 60 or older
- A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances
- A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving child’s benefits
- An unmarried child of the deceased who is one of the following:
- Younger than age 18 (up to age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school).
- Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22.
What Steps Should Survivor’s Take?
In most cases, the funeral home will report the person’s death, however, if not, a surviving family member should notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible following the date of death. Deaths cannot be reported online, and benefits can not be applied for online.
How Do I Contact the Social Security Administration?
If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, or have questions about qualifying to receive survivor’s benefits, call 1-800-772-1213.
Additional information is available online at ssa.gov/benefits/survivors