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How To Get Social Security Death Benefit

How To Apply For The Social Security Death Benefit After A Family Member Passes Away

Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit

You can apply for the $255 lump-sum payment by phone or by visiting a local Social Security office.

To apply for the Social Security Death Benefit by phone youll need to call 800.772.1213.

You can also visit any Social Security office in your area to learn more about this death benefit. You can find the nearest Social Security office to you by visiting the Social Security website. From here you can type your zip code into the search to see a listing of Social Security offices close to you.

Consult Our Widow Benefits Lawyers And Survivorship Lawyers For Free

Do you have questions about widow and survivor benefits? If so, walk into our El Paso, Dallas, Austin or Phoenix office today for a FREE consultation with our attorneys. Or, if you prefer, you can call us locally today at El Paso 533-9718, Dallas -319-6800 or Austin 371-1990 or Phoenix 251-4097. We charge no lawyer fees unless we recover benefits for you, and we accept walk-in appointments at any time.

Todos nuestros abogados hablan español.

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Social Security Agreements And Taxability

If the deceased resided or worked in Canada or another country, you might qualify for benefits from either or both countries. This process takes place via a Social Security agreement, which is an international treaty between Canada and another country that has similar pension programs. The criteria for each agreement vary, so its best to consult the agreement that applies to you. Tax laws concerning these benefits differ by country. For example, if you receive U.S. Social Security benefits as a Canadian resident, those benefits are taxed in Canada as if they were CPP payments however, 15% of the amount isnt subject to Canadian tax.

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The Delayed Retirement Credit

For every year between your full retirement age and age 70 that you dont claim benefits, youll get a credit of 8% of your benefits. And on top of that, your benefits will get a Cost-of-Living Adjustment , a bump in your benefits based on how the Social Security Administration estimates each years increase in the cost of living. Thats why many people wait to file until after their full retirement age.

The longer you wait to claim primary benefits up to age 70, the more time they have to grow. You will get larger per-month benefits if you wait longer to begin collecting them. Thats why many experts encourage people to think of 70 as the true full retirement age for Social Security purposes.

Is your spouse still alive? Well, as of April 30, 2016, youll no longer be able to claim spousal benefits and defer your primary benefits, letting them grow until you reach age 70. The day you apply for Social Security benefits, whether its at 62 or 70 or any age in between, youll be filing for the larger of either your spousal or primary benefits.

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

When a worker pays into the Social Security system over the course of their life, they accumulate credits. A worker can receive up to four credits a year. For example, in 2020, workers will receive one credit for every $1,410 they earn. When your spouse has earned $5,640, they have earned their four credits for the year.

In order to claim retirement, a worker needs 40 credits. However, the number of credits required to provide survivor benefits for the workers family depends on the workers age when they die. This means that the younger a person is when they pass away, the fewer credits they will need for their family members receive survivor benefits.

When someone retires, or when they die, the amount of their benefit is calculated based on their earnings over their lifetime. This is the amount that survivors will receive all or part of. To calculate their benefit, Social Security adds up the workers income during the years they made the most money. They then index that total against average wages across the country during those years. This results in the workers Average Indexed Monthly Earnings . The Social Security Administration only includes the portion of a workers income up to the maximum taxable earnings limit. This is the amount that is taxed for Social Securityin 2020, thats $137,700. If your spouse earned more than that, the higher earnings will not be included in the calculation because these monies were not taxed by Social Security.

Did you Know?

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Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby

The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.

Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:

  • Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
  • Open a bank account in their name
  • Get medical coverage for them
  • Apply for government services for them

Minor Or Child With A Disability

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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Documents You May Need To Provide

We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:

  • A birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
  • U.S. military discharge paper if you had military service before 1968
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for last year and
  • A death certificate for the deceased worker.


We accept photocopies of W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate. We will return the documents to you.

Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.

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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How Long Does It Take To Receive Death Benefits

The Social Security Administration offers benefits to help families financially after the death of a loved one. The type of assistance you can receive depends on the decedent’s work history and your relationship. In addition to the Social Security benefits, some people choose to purchase life insurance. Policies and coverage can vary greatly, and there is no specified time frame for receiving death benefits. Depending on the type of benefits available, you may receive payments right away or years down the road.


  • The exact amount of time needed to process all paperwork and issue benefits will depend heavily on the type of assistance requested.

Who Can Claim Benefits From My Record

Auxiliary benefits are divided into two categories: those that kick in before a workers death and those that go to the workers survivors. The second kind of benefits are often called survivor or Social Security death benefits. Here are the rules:

While youre alive, your spouse and any ex-spouse become eligible to claim spousal benefits from your record, beginning when they turn 62. In order for your husband or wife to claim Social Security spousal benefits you must have already claimed your primary benefits. Divorced spouses, though, can begin claiming benefits on their exs record whether or not the ex has filed for retirement benefits.

Minor children and disabled children of any age who became disabled before age 22 are also eligible to receive auxiliary benefits if their retired parent has started claiming primary benefits.

After a worker eligible for primary Social Security benefits dies, a few classes of protected individuals are entitled to claim auxiliary survivor benefits . The folks with this kind of Social Security eligibility include:

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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.

How Much Is A Social Security Death Benefit

Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit Guide

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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What Questions Will They Ask You

Some of the questions applicants will be asked for are: name and social security number as well as those of the deceased worker, children and any other former spouses. Illnesses or conditions 14 months prior to the deceased death, the amount of money he or she earned in his last year of life will also be questions for family members.

To learn all of the questions you will be asked visit the SSA official website.


Social Security Survivor Benefits: The Complete Guide

Whenever Im asked about how Social Security survivor benefits work, I have a simple answer:

At death of the first spouse, surviving spouses receive the higher of:

  • Their own monthly benefit, or
  • The monthly benefit of the deceased.

Thats the clean and straightforward answer, but its not quite that simple. Although Social Security survivor benefits really are pretty simple, every family is different. Unique situations and variables can introduce some complexity.

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What If I Still Have Questions About Wrapping Up Social Security Benefits

Wrapping up social security benefits after a loved one passes can be overwhelming, but you dont have to do it alone. The Social Security Administration has a list of more than 200 frequently asked questions highlighting some of the most common inquiries.

If you cant find what youre looking for there, call 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The line is often busy in the morning, but you can avoid long hold times by calling in the evening or toward the end of the week.

If youre deaf or hard of hearing and use a teletypewriter , call 1-800-325-0778.

Ii How Private Accounts Plans Would Reduce Inheritances For Many Surviving Family Members

How Does The Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit Work?

For many surviving family members, private-account plans would reduce inheritance benefits rather than increase them. Private-account plans would tend to reduce inheritances for three groups of survivors.

  • Under private-account plans that include substantial reductions in Social Security survivors benefits, many minor children and widows of deceased workers would be worse off, because the reductions in their survivors benefits would far surpass the account balances that they could inherit.
  • A second group of surviving family members whose inheritances could be reduced consists of widows who would inherit a private account that had not performed well in the stock market and who would have to repay Social Security for the debt associated with that account. To repay the debt, these widows own Social Security retirement benefits could be reduced by more than the amount they would receive by inheriting the account.
  • The third group consists of the heirs of retirees who live to a very old age and, as a result, have their Social Security benefits reduced by more than the amounts they receive from their private accounts. These retirees often would have to dig deeper into their own savings to support themselves in very old age, leaving them with less to pass to heirs.

The following sections of the analysis examine each of these three groups.

1. Surviving Family Members Who Would Face Large Reductions in Survivors Benefits

3. Heirs of Retirees Who Live to a Very Old Age

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Will My Family Be Allowed To Collect My Social Security Benefits After I Die

If your family depends on you financially, you may be concerned about how your loved ones will survive when you pass away. The Social Security Administration allows families of workers to collect survivors’ benefits, a monthly payment that helps ease financial burden.

However, a worker must have paid enough in Social Security taxes during his or her lifetime for the family to be eligible.

What Is A Social Security Card

Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll 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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Why Hire A Social Security & Disability Attorney

Social Security lawyers most often help clients get disability benefits in the form of SSDI and SSI . These lawyers can also offer help with Social Security Retirement and Survivors Benefits claims.While it is helpful to hire an Social Security attorney to help apply for disability benefits, a lawyer is most valuable when your disability claim has been denied. At this point, the attorney can help you navigate the disability appeals process, from crafting an argument for the initial appeal, to representing you at the administrative hearing stage in front of the ALJ . Most disability claims are won at the appeals stage, and a lawyer will prove invaluable. Additionally, lawyers fees are only paid from a winning claim, so applicants need not worry about having to pay a lawyer to help them.

If The Deceased Contributor Worked Or Lived In Quebec

Social Security Benefits For Spouse After Death

A person may contribute to both the CPP and the Quebec Pension Plan.

The contributions made under both plans are combined when a death benefit is calculated.

Contact Retraite Québec if at the time of death, one of these conditions also applies:

  • the deceased contributor only contributed to the Quebec Pension Plan
  • the deceased contributor lived outside Canada and the last province of residence was Quebec, or
  • the deceased contributor lived in Quebec at the time of death.

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How Do You Apply For Survivor Benefits

Because individual circumstances can vary widely, it is not possible to apply for survivor benefits online. However, you can apply over the phone or by appointment at your local Social Security office. Current requirements and contact information are always available on the Social Security Administration website.

Applying for survivor benefits may require you to submit specific documents, such as a death certificate, marriage certificate, proof of citizenship, or a divorce decree, so rounding them up beforehand will help expedite the process.

How To Apply For Benefits

You should not wait until you have all the required documentation to contact the office, but rather gather as much of the following information possible before your appointment:

  • A death certificate or documentation from a funeral home showing proof of death.
  • Your birth certificate.
  • The Social Security number of the deceased worker.
  • A marriage certificate, if you are applying as a widow or widower.
  • A divorce decree if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower.
  • The Social Security numbers of any dependent children, as well as their birth certificates.
  • The most recent W-2 forms of the deceased worker.
  • Your bank account number and the name of the bank if you want to have funds directly deposited.

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What About My Ex

Spousal benefits for divorced spouses are affected by the Bipartisan Budget Act, too. Previously, divorced spouses who were married for 10 years or more could claim reduced auxiliary benefits from their exs record when they reached age 62, or full auxiliary benefits when they reached full retirement age, all while letting their own benefits grow. Thats no longer the case as of April 30, 2016.

If youre divorced and you turn 62 on or before January 1, 2016, you can still file a Restricted Application and receive your divorced spousal benefits, waiting until age 70 to claim your primary retirement benefits. But those who arent in that age group will no longer be able to claim spousal benefits without claiming their primary benefits. Like still-married spouses, ex-spouses will be assumed to be claiming all their benefits when they first file.

Note that a divorced spouse married for 10 years or more can claim full auxiliary benefits on their exs record at any age if he or she is caring for the dependent minor child of the ex-spouse.

Also, the divorced spousal benefit for people whose ex-spouses are still alive is lower than the divorced widows benefit.

If you remarry, it doesnt keep your ex from being eligible to claim benefits on your record. But having an ex who is claiming benefits on your record wont keep your new spouse from being able to claim benefits either.

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