Information About Social Security
As your funeral director, we immediately notify Social Security of the death of your loved one.  However, we recently discovered that although there is only one way for us to notify them (via fax) it is not always a reliable or trusted process. Therefore, if the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, and you then receive it, 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 received by direct deposit, contact the bank or other financial institution and ask them to return any funds received for the month of death or later.  If paid by check, do not cash any checks received for the month the person dies or later.  Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible.

One-time Lump Payment
A one-time payment of $255 is paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased.   If living apart and getting certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record, the surviving spouse may still be able to get this one-time payment.  If there’s no surviving spouse, a dependent child generally ages 18 or under is then eligible for a one-time lump sum death benefit. *Important* if you are not currently receiving Social Security benefits, you must apply for the lump-sum death payment within two years of your spouse or parent’s death. If the Social Security death benefit is being paid to a widow or widower who is receiving a spousal benefit, then no application need be filed.

This payment will not be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.

Who can get Survivors Benefits?
Here is a list of family members who usually can get benefits:

  • Widows and widowers age 60 or older
  • Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased’s child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled.
  • Divorced wives and husbands age 60 or older, if married to the deceased 10 years or more.
  • Widows, widowers, divorced wives and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
  • Children up to age 18.
  • Children age 18-19, if they attend elementary school or high school full time.
  • Children over age 18, if they become disabled before age 22.
  • The deceased worker’s parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.

How to Apply for Benefits?
How you sign up for Social Security benefits depends on whether or not you are getting other Social Security benefits.

If you aren’t getting Social Security benefits, you can apply for benefits by telephone or by going to any Social Security office.  You may need some of the documents shown on the list below.  But don’t delay your application because you don’t have all the information.  If you don’t have a document you need, Social Security can help you get it.

If you are already getting benefits as a wife or a husband on your spouse ‘s record when he or she dies, in many situations Social Security changes the payments to survivors benefits once the death is reported to us.  Benefits for any children will also automatically be changed to survivor’s benefits after the death is reported to us.

Information Needed

  • Your Social Security number and the deceased worker’s Social Security number
  • A death certificate (not always necessary, since we provide the proper document required).
  • Proof of the deceased worker’s earnings for last year (W-2 forms or self-employment tax return).
  • Your birth certificate
  • A marriage certificate, if you are applying for benefits as a widow, widower, divorced wife or divorced husband.
  • A divorce decree, if you are applying for benefits as a divorced wife or husband.
  • Children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children’s benefits.
  • Your checking or savings account information, if you want direct deposit of your benefits.

You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office.  You can mail or bring them to the office.  Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents.

For more Information
For more information, write or visit any Social Security office or phone the toll-free number, 800-772-1213.  You can speak to a representative weekdays 7 am to 7 pm.  You can also visit Social Security’s website: