Benefits Information – Social Security Death Benefits

After the loss of a loved one, surviving family members often have many questions about Social Security benefits. As a hospice worker or caregiver, you’ll want to give them all the right answers. The following checklist is designed to help families file for Social Security benefits correctly to ensure prompt payments.

ELIGIBILITY
The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years depending on his or her age at death. Those who may receive monthly benefits include:

A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled

A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled

Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full-time)

Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled

Dependent parent or parents 62 or older

LUMP-SUM DEATH PAYMENT
A one-time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment (LSDP) is paid in the following priority order:

A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death

A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death

A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death

APPLYING FOR BENEFITS
You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or by phone.

You can call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day at 1-800-772-1213. The operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by phone.

To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. At other times and on weekends and holidays, you can leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, by the next business day.

Call this toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to make an appointment either in a Social Security office or by phone, to apply for benefits, transact other Social Security business or just ask questions.

Note: This information is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with appropriate legal advisors or the appropriate government agencies. It is possible that the information may not be current as the laws or government policies may have changed.