The deceased is covered by Social Security death benefits if he or she paid into Social Security for at least 40 quarters. Locate your local Social Security office at www.ssa.gov/locator. You can contact them to determine if the deceased was eligible for benefits. If the deceased was eligible, there are two types of possible benefits.
Social Security Death Benefits for Burial Expenses
A lump-sum death benefit of $255 (in 2022) is provided toward burial expenses. You can complete the necessary form at your local Social Security office, or you can ask the funeral director to complete the application and apply the payment directly to the funeral bill. This payment is made only to eligible spouses or to a child entitled to survivor’s benefits.
One of the social security death benefits is called ‘Survivor’s Benefits.’ Survivor’s benefits for a spouse or children are subject to change and can be verified on the Social Security website. As of 2022, they were as follows:
- If the spouse is age 60 or older, he or she will be eligible for benefits. The amount of the benefit received prior to full retirement age (between 65 and 67) will be less than the benefit due at or after full retirement age.
- Disabled widows aged 50 or older will be eligible for benefits.
- The spouse of the deceased who is under 60 but who cares for dependent children under 16 or cares for disabled children may be eligible for benefits.
- The unmarried children of the deceased who are under age 18 or who are disabled may also be entitled to benefits.
When applying for Social Security death benefits, you should have birth and death certificates of the deceased, marriage certificate, birth certificates of any dependent children, Social Security numbers, and copies of the deceased’s most recent federal income tax return.
Please remember that Social Security death benefits are not automatic; they must be applied for. Delay in applying can cause loss of some benefits because back payments cannot be made for periods exceeding 12 months.