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Social Security Death Benefits And Funeral Coverage

Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit

Medicare does not cover funeral costs or burial expenses. However, the insured may set up a Medicare Medical Savings Account , which allows certain flexibility for non-medical expenses. These are plans which annually add funds to a devoted bank account, truly meant to be used for Medicare-covered medically necessary services.

If that money gets used up, MSA plans require account holders to pay out-of-pocket until reaching a high deductible amount.

There is no premium for an MSA, but monthly premiums for Part B must continue to be paid. Certain plans allow one to designate a surviving beneficiary in the event of death.

A Medicare Medical Savings Account allows unused funds to cover expenses such as funeral costs, albeit at a highly taxed and penalized rate. Funeral and burial expenses are considered ineligible expenses under an MSA because they are non-medical, but nonetheless the funds can be used for these purposes.

Money from the account used for these types of expenses are taxed as part of yearly income, and are also subjected to an additional 50% tax penalty.

Annual deposits made by the plan into the MSA before the current calendar year began go to the beneficiarys estate upon death.

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What Is A Social Security Card

Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. Youll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.

When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.

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Eligible For Benefits In The Last 12 Months

There’s an exception for those who recently applied for retirement benefits. If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you might be allowed to withdraw your retirement application and apply for survivor benefits only. You can then reapply for your retirement benefits later when the benefits will be a higher amount.

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How Much Is A Social Security Death Benefit

Disability benefits are offered through the Social Security Administration to provide financial assistance to those who are unable to work due to a disability or medical condition. If you are dependent on a worker who has died, there are certain options available to you to ensure that you receive the money you have relied on for medical bills and every day living expenses.

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How Children Can Qualify To Receive Death Benefits From A Parent

If My Spouse Dies, Do I Get His Social Security and Mine?

Social security death benefits are available to unmarried children of a qualified individual who dies if they fit into one of the categories listed below. In this case, “child” refers to a biological or adopted child or dependent stepchild.

  • Minor under the age of 18
  • 18 or 19 year-old full-time high school student
  • Disabled individual 18+ whose disability began before the age of 22

Note: Benefits also apply to grandchildren if the deceased grandparent legally adopted the child prior to passing away, or if the child is dependent on the grandparent because their biological parents are deceased or disabled. There are no circumstances in which a married child qualifies for death benefits after a parent dies.

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Parental Qualification For Social Security Death Benefits

Parental qualification is the first factor in determining if a child is eligible to receive Social Security death benefits after the death of a parent. The Social Security Administration uses a to determine eligibility.

  • Most people earn four credits per year, depending on how much money they earn and if they work full time in a job for which Social Security taxes are paid.
  • At this rate, once someone has worked ten years they have earned 40 credits, which is the maximum number someone needs to earn in order to be eligible for Social Security benefits.
  • The qualified child of anyone who has earned 40 credits prior to their death will be eligible to receive benefits, but that is not the only way a child can become eligible.
  • If someone dies at a very young age, they may not have worked long enough to have 40 credits. In that case, the SSA takes the age of the deceased parent into consideration.
  • Eligible children of a parent who dies very young can qualify for death benefits if the parent earned six credits within the three years immediately preceding their death.

Important Things To Do After The Loss Of A Loved One

Although the time following a loss is one of grieving, a bit of guidance on how to wrap up financial affairs can help in bringing closure.

If the departed received monthly benefits, the benefits received for the month of death and months following their death must be returned to Social Security.

To make sure this is properly carried out:

  • Notify the Social Security Administration about the death of a beneficiary or make a visit to their offices.
  • Make a call to the bank or the financial institution where the direct payments were sent to and request those funds be returned to the SSA. Be sure to have the beneficiarys account number and social security number when doing so.
  • Do not cash any benefit check that was received during the month of the loss and return it to the SSA.

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How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify

While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:

  • Those who are currently retired
  • To people with disabilities
  • To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died

Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration offers.

There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:

  • Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits

Minor Or Child With A Disability

Can A Claim For Social Security Benefits Be Pursued After Death?

If you are the unmarried child under age 18 of a worker who dies, you can be eligible to receive Social Security survivors benefits. You can also be eligible, if you are up to age 19 and attending elementary or secondary school full time.

Besides the worker’s natural children, their stepchildren, grandchildren, step grandchildren, or adopted children may receive benefits under certain circumstances.

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How Much Do Children Receive

Each person’s situation is unique, so there isn’t an easy answer to the question of how much money a child will receive in the form of death benefits following the death of a parent. The amount is based on a variety of factors, including the deceased parent’s earnings history, their age, how many years they worked, and SSA payment limits . The only way to know exactly how much a child will receive is to complete the application process.

  • If multiple family members receive survivors’ benefits, each eligible child can receive up to 50 percent of the amount the parent would have qualified for at retirement or upon becoming disabled.
  • Whether a child receives the full 50 percent depends on family size. Each eligible individual’s amount has to be proportionally adjusted to stay within the maximum allowable amount.
  • For survivors’ benefits, the maximum allowable amount for all eligible family members ranges from 150 percent to 180 percent of what the deceased individual’s retirement/disability benefit would have been.
  • If no one else in the family is receiving survivor’s benefits, the child can receive up to 75 percent of the amount the parent would have qualified for at retirement or upon becoming disabled.

What Happens If The Deceased Received Monthly Benefits

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death and any later months.

For example, if the person died in July, you must return the benefits paid in August. How you return the benefits depends on how the deceased received benefits:

  • For funds received 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 us.
  • Benefits received by check must be returned to us as soon as possible. Do not cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later.

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How Do You Apply For Social Security Survivors Benefits

If you are unable to work due to a medical condition or disability, the Social Security Administration can provide disability benefits. These benefits can help you pay medical bills and every day living expenses without making a regular income. If you are financially dependent on a worker who has died, you may be able to receive survivors benefits from the SSA to help with the costs and expenses you are left to handle.

If You Haven’t Applied For Retirement Benefits Yet

How to Get Social Security Survivor Benefits

Spouses who are eligible for both the survivor benefit and the retirement benefit based on their own work record can maximize their total benefits by taking them in the most advantageous order. The Social Security Administration explains how this works:

If you are also eligible for retirement benefits , you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other benefit at a later date.

The right order for you will depend on the size of each benefit. If both payouts currently are about the same, it may be best to take the survivor benefit at age 60. It’s going to be reduced because you’re taking it early, but you can collect that benefit from age 60 to age 70 while your own retirement benefit continues to grow. Then you can collect your own benefit starting at age 70 when it maxes out.

Conversely, if your own benefit is small compared to the survivor benefit , you could take your own benefit at age 62, which is the earliest age at which you’re eligible. Then, at age 66, you could switch over to the survivor benefit. However, the survivor benefit would be reduced since it was taken early or before full retirement age.

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Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit

Benefit Fact Sheet

A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving Spouse of a deceased Service member if they were living with the deceased, or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased Service Member’s record. If there is no surviving Spouse, the payment is made to Children who are eligible for benefits on the deceased’s 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 deceased Service member must have been either fully insured or currently insured under the Social Security system. Generally, the benefit is paid only to eligible survivors who were already receiving or are eligible to receive immediate monthly benefits derived from the earnings record of the deceased. Former Spouses are not eligible for this benefit. The benefit may not be paid directly to a funeral home. Military duty status at time of death is not a factor in determining eligibility.

You can help by being ready to:

  • Provide any needed documents and

  • Answer the questions listed below.

Documents you may need to provide

You may be asked to provide documents to prove eligibility, such as:

Important: Photocopies of W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns are accepted, but only the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate are accepted. All documents will be returned to you.

Questions About The Social Security Administration

How Do I Apply For Disability Benefits?

To apply for benefits, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. They have a TTY phone connection at 1-800-325-0778. You can ask SSA to send you the correct forms, and they can answer questions you may have.

How Do I Apply For Supplemental Security Income ?

To apply for benefits or to ask questions, contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. They have a TTY phone connections as well at 1-800-325-0778.

Supplemental Security Income is an income assistance program administered by the Social Security Administration for people who are elderly , blind, or disabled who don’t have many assets and who don’t earn much money

To apply for benefits or to get more information about the SSA retirement program, call 1-800-772-1213. They have a TTY phone connection as well at 1-800-325-0778.

How Do I Apply for Survivors’ Benefits?

A family member or other person responsible for the beneficiary’s affairs should do the following:

How Do I Apply For Medicare Benefits?

If you are already getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits or railroad retirement checks, Social Security will contact you a few months before you become eligible for Medicare and give you the information you need to register.

If you are not already getting checks, you should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 about three months before your 65th Birthday to sign up for Medicare. They also have a TTY phone connection at 1-800-325-0778.

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How To Claim Survivors Benefits

To begin receiving survivors benefits, you must make a claim with the Social Security Administration. Survivors benefits claims may not be made online. You can start the claims process over the telephone, 1-800-772-1213, or go to your local Social Security office. Making an appointment may reduce your wait time.

The death should be reported to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. In many cases, the funeral home can make that notification. You will have to provide the funeral home with the deceaseds Social Security number.

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Documents Required During Application For The Social Security Death Benefits


Social Security death benefits can only begin after reporting the loss and after applying they do not automatically begin when the person passes away. Therefore, it is important to make an application as soon as possible.

The application is not available online, and a survivor would require visiting the nearest Social Security office, or make a phone call to Social Security to report a loss and apply for survivors benefits.

Applicants will provide the following information to prove their eligibility:

  • A certified evidence of death- this may be from a funeral home or a death certificate.
  • The names, genders, addresses, and social security numbers of former spouses.
  • Dates of marriages and when they ended, as well as how they ended.
  • A proof of birth through the original birth certificate.
  • Proof of United States Citizenship or the lawful resident status.
  • The deceased persons W-2 forms or the tax returns for the previous year, and amount of earnings in the year of death.
  • U.S military discharge papers .

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What About The Government Pension Offset

The Government Pension Offset reduces auxiliary Social Security benefits for people who earn a pension from federal, state or local government work they did and for which they did not pay Social Security taxes. The GPO lowers your spousal or survivor benefit by $2 for every $3 you get from a government pension.

Get Ssa Benefits While Living Abroad

U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.

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Documents You Should Pull Together Before You Apply

Surviving spouses must show the SSA theyre eligible to apply for the lump-sum Social Security death benefit. Make sure you have original versions of most documents listed below:

  • Your birth certificate or similar proof of your age and identity. Not everyone has an original birth certificate just lying around the house, and the SSA wont accept photocopies. But dont worry if you dont have this document, the agency may also help you get one. Other proof the SSA usually accepts for this:
  • Your passport, which also fulfills requirement #3 below
  • School records from before your 5th birthday
  • A signed statement from the doctor or midwife present at your birth
  • Your childs birth certificate
  • Insurance policy documents
  • Your marriage record/certificate
  • Original family bible or record filled out at the time of your birth
  • Your deceased spouses death certificate.
  • Proof of citizenship or lawful alien status. This applies to people born outside the U.S. or Green Card holders.
  • Did you serve in the U.S. military before 1968? If yes, the SSA needs your discharge papers.
  • What Percentage Of Social Security Benefits Does A Widow Or Widower Receive

    Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit Guide

    The surviving spouse can receive 100% of the benefits at full retirement age. If the surviving spouse is between age 60 and their full retirement age, they can receive reduced benefitsusually 71.599%. If the surviving spouse is disabled, they can begin receiving 71.5% of the benefits at age 50. Surviving spouses with children under 16 receive 75% of the benefits

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    How Are Social Security Survivor Benefits Calculated

    A one-time death benefit payment of $255 can be paid to your surviving spouse if they were living with you or if you were living apart and your spouse was receiving certain Social Security benefits on your record. In cases where there is no surviving spouse, the one-time payment can be made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased’s record in the month of death.

    The exact number of credits you need for family members to be eligible for survivor benefits depends on your age when you die. The younger you are, the fewer credits you need, but the maximum you will ever need is 40 credits. For most people, it is necessary to work and pay Social Security taxes for at least 10 years to accrue the required amount.

    However, if your death leaves a spouse with dependent children, a special provision allows benefits to be paid to them if you have earned six credits or more within the three calendar years before your death.

    As with regular retirement benefits, the amount of survivor benefits that your family would receive is based on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the higher the benefit, up to a certain maximum.

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