Documents You Might Be Asked To Provide
- birth certificate or other prove of birth such as ID or driving license
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship
- U.S. military discharge paper if you had military service before 1968
- W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns for the last year
- The death certificate of the deceased worker
In order to help speed up the processing of your application, you must be aware of the documents you might be asked to provide when you apply and prepare any possible questions you might be asked. Any missing information will slow down your application request.
Note that SSA only accepts photocopies of W-2 Forms and self-employment tax returns, all the other documents presented must be in their original form.
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How Social Security Survivor Benefits Work
You earn Social Security benefits through working during your lifetime. Your eligibility and the amount of money you receive will depend on the number of credits you accumulate. Youll receive one credit for every $1,360 earned from wages or self-employment income. So, if you make $5,440 in one year, youll get four credits.
To receive Social Security benefits, youll need to have earned at least 40 credits in your lifetime. This means that full- and part-time workers who earn $5,440 or more per year over ten years will eventually earn 40 credits.
The number of credits also determines how much of a benefit youll receive. So the more a person pays into Social Security, the bigger the benefits checks and the bigger the survivor benefits check may be.
Social Security Can Pay Survivor Benefits To Eligible Family Members
Pamela Rodriguez is a Certified Financial Planner®, Series 7 and 66 license holder, with 10 years of experience in Financial Planning and Retirement Planning. She is the founder and CEO of Fulfilled Finances LLC, the Social Security Presenter for AARP, and the Treasurer for the Financial Planning Association of NorCal.
Social Security benefits can help provide a stream of income for retirement or if someone becomes disabled and can no longer work. A Social Security beneficiary is someone who receives Social Security or Supplemental Security Income payments. When a beneficiary passes away, there are certain steps that must be taken to cancel benefits or transfer the payments to an eligible survivor.
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Does Social Security Take Money Back After Death
Should a person die before their regular payment date, an underpayment is created since they are still entitled to receive their payment for the previous month. Social Security withholds payment in the situations, or if the deposit has already been made then the bank is required to return the fund since the person entitled to the underpayment is determined by law. The person legally entitled to the underpayment may or may not be the same person with access to the deceased persons bank account.
How To Receive Federal Benefits
To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Call the Go Direct Helpline at .
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at .
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
On Go Direct’s FAQ page, learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
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How Much Do Widowed Spouses Receive
Social Security survivors benefits are especially important to women , because wives tend to earn less than their husbands, and they also typically outlive their husbands. When a retired worker dies, the surviving spouse receives a benefit equal to the deceased workers full retirement benefit.
Depending on the widows or widowers circumstances, however, this benefit may substantially reduce her monthly household income because only one Social Security benefit is now arriving , not the two benefits that the couple received before the spouses death. Women who had worked and earned their own Social Security benefits, in particular, may find themselves struggling to meet the rising fixed expenses that come with aging.
For more information on Social Security and survivor benefits, please visit the Social Security Administration at ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/.
Receive The Last Benefits Check And Stop Future Payments
Even if the funeral home was quick in notifying the SSA about the death, a benefits check might still come in the mail.
Once a person has died, theyre no longer eligible for benefits. Also, youll want to note that SSA benefits are backdated, meaning a benefits check received in June covers July benefits. If someone dies before the end of the month, they do not qualify for any part of that months payments.
For example, if they die on April 10 after their benefits check arrived and was already cashed, then the April check was their last payment. If a check still arrives for May, dont cash it. Instead, return it to the Social Security Administration.
But if they died before the benefits check arrived, youll still be able to cash the check sent for that month. If they receive a check in June for Mays benefits, you shouldnt cash that check. You must return the check to the SSA.
If the deceased receives checks that they arent qualified to cash after death, you must return the check to the SSA as soon as possible. If benefit funds were usually received by direct deposit, contact the bank or financial institution. Youll also want to request that any additional funds be blocked or returned.
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Grandchildren Of Deceased Ssdi Recipients
As a grandchild , you may be eligible to receive survivors benefits on the record of a deceased grandparent if the following requirements are met:
- Your biological parents are deceased or disabled and are not making regular contributions to support you.
- You began living with your grandparent before the age of 18 years old and your grandparent provided at least half of your support for at least 12 months before dying.
- For babies under 12 months old, the infant has lived with the grandparent for substantially all of the infant’s, and the grandparent provided at least half of the infant’s support.
Qualified grandchildren will receive 75% of their grandparent’s SSDI benefit, the same as children. The payments will continue until the grandchild’s 18th birthday payments will actually stop the month before the grandchild turns 18 years old.
If the grandchild is adopted by the grandparents, the above requirements for grandchildren need not be met. The adopted grandchild will instead need to meet the requirements laid out in the “Children” section.
If You Are The Survivor
Just as you plan for your family’s protection if you die, you should consider the Social Security benefits that may be available if you are the survivor that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. That person must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.
How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits
A worker can earn up to four credits each year. In 2022, for example, your spouse can earn one credit for each $1,510 of wages or self-employment income. When your spouse has earned $6,040 they have earned their four credits for the year.
The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when they die. No one needs more than 40 credits to be eligible for any Social Security benefit. But, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they must have for family members to receive survivors benefits.
Some survivors can get benefits if the worker has credit for one and one-half years of work in the three years just before their death. Each persons situation is different and you need to talk to one of our claims representatives about your choices.
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Return All Subsequent Payments
Social Security does not pay any benefits for the month in which a person dies. This means that any payments received the month after a person dies must be returned to the SSA. The same is true for any subsequent payments.
- If a February social security payment is sent to a person who died in January, it cannot be kept.
- This is because the February payment would be for January, the month in which the person died.
- Even if they lived until the last day of January, all funds received in February must be returned.
- The date in January the person passed away is not relevant, as proration is not a factor with social security payments.
Lost Or Stolen Federal Payments
Report your lost, missing, or stolen federal check to the agency that issued the payment. It’s usually one of these paying agencies. If your documentation indicates it’s a different agency, and you need its contact information, look in the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.
To get an update on your claim, contact the Treasury Department Philadelphia Financial Center at 1-855-868-0151, option 1.
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Adult Children Of Deceased Ssdi Recipients
As an adult childâa child of an SSDI recipient who is 18 years old or olderâyou may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits under either of two circumstances.
- You are under 19 years old and a full-time student in a secondary school.
- You are disabled and you became disabled before the age of 22.
Qualified adult children will receive 75% of their deceased parent’s SSDI benefit, the same as children under 18. If an adult child is receiving benefits because as a full-time student, the benefits will end when school is completed or two months after turning 19, whichever comes first.
Disabled adult children will continue to receive benefits for as long as they are disabled and unmarried.
Chapter : How Much Will You Receive In Survivor Benefits
After the passing of the worker, Social Security pays a one-time death benefit of $255 which can be collected by the widow or child.
Then there is the monthly Social Security survivor benefit. That benefit is based on the Social Security benefit the worker was receiving .
The benefit can be up to 100% of what your spouse would have received at full retirement. If the benefit you would receive as a survivor is higher than the benefit you receive on your own, Social Security will pay you the higher of the two amounts, not the two combined. However, survivor benefits, unlike spousal benefits, dont have to be claimed at the same time as your own retirement benefits. You can, in many cases, receive one benefit for a time and then file for the other one later. This is a common strategy for widows to take to maximize their benefits.
Did you Know?
The earliest a widow or widower can apply for survivor benefits is age 60 .
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How To Stop Social Security Check Payments
The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.
If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.
Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.
Sign Up For Survivor Benefits
If you arent already receiving benefits through a spouse or parent, youll have to start from scratch in applying for survivor benefits.
If you can, apply as soon as possible. In some cases, benefits arent retroactive. Youll only get them from the time you applied, but not necessarily from the date your loved one passed away.
In addition, you might qualify for what’s known as a death benefit through Social Security. This is a one-time, lump-sum payment for the surviving spouse or child of the deceased. This can be used to pay for final expenses, funeral costs, and so on. Whether you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid funeral with GatheringUs or a traditional, in-person event, this death benefit is a definite help.
Chapter : Who Is Eligible For Survivor Benefits From Social Security
- A widow or widower age 60 or older who was and did not remarry before age 60
- A surviving divorced spouse who was married to the deceased for at least 10 years
- A widow or widower of any age caring for the deceaseds child who is under 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on their record
- An unmarried child of the deceased who is: younger than age 18 or age 18 or older with a disability that began before 22
- Parents of the deceased worker who are 1) at least 62 2) were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income, and 3) whose own Social Security benefit is not larger than that of their deceased child
Did you Know?
If you were married to the deceased for at least9 months, you could be eligible for survivors benefits.
When A Family Member Dies
We should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.
If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 . You can speak to one of our representatives between 8:00 am 7:00 pm. Monday through Friday. You can also contact your local Social Security office.
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Withdrawing Social Security Benefits
Thesecond option available to you to stop Social Security benefits is choosing to withdraw those benefits. If suspending your benefits was likehitting the Pause button, the withdrawal optioneffectively hits the Undo button on your benefit election.
Going this route makes it like filing and receiving your benefits never happened. But the rules for this option are differentthan Method 1.
You can withdrawSocial Security benefits anytime between ages 62 and 70 but you must choose to do so within the first 12months of receiving benefits. Oncethat 12 month window closes, you can no longer use this option.
Withdrawingbenefits also means you have to repay all yourbenefits. This includes the benefits that you already received and any benefitsthat your spouse or children received. You mustalso pay back any Medicare premiums that were withheld and any voluntary taxwithholding that came out of your benefit check.
You can only usethis withdrawal method once, and keep in mind that anyone elses benefit that would also be stopped from your withdrawalwill have to provide written consent before your request is approved.
Forexample, a spouse who isreceiving spousal benefits right now would no longer get those benefits shouldyou withdraw your benefits. Since this would create a loss of income for them, theyllhave to agree to the withdrawal of benefits.
What Happens To Social Security When You Die
The end of a persons life doesnt necessarily mean the end of their social security payments. Depending on factors like income and dependents, Social Security checks will still be issued to someone else even after the original recipient passes away.
According to the Social Security Administration website, if you work and pay into Social Security, part of those taxes go toward survivor benefits, which means your surviving spouse, children and even parents could be eligible for payments based on your earnings. Likewise, you and your family could be eligible for benefits based on the earnings of someone else who died as long as the deceased worked long enough to qualify for benefits. If you have no survivors or dependents, the payments simply cease.
Whenever someone dies, the Social Security office should be notified immediately. This is usually handled by the funeral home, which sends in a form called Statement of Death by Funeral Director.
If that doesnt happen, youll have to call the SSA you cannot report a death or apply for survivor benefits online.
If you need to report a death or apply for survivor benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Any benefit thats paid after the month of the persons death needs to be refunded, Peggy Sherman, a certified financial planner and lead advisor at Briaud Financial Advisors in College Station, Texas, told CNBC.
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Why Stopsocial Security Benefits
Sometimes, people file for their Social Security benefits and then realize they needto stop receiving this income at least for a little while. It might bebecause they went back to work and earn their income that way, or feel likethey made a mistake to file when they did .
Whatever the reason you might face, know thatyou canchange your mind and stop your benefits. However, there are two distinctmethods you can use to stop Social Security benefits, and each of them have different rules and outcomes.
Understanding the differencesbetween these two methods is really important.
When Can An Adult Child Begin Receiving Ssdi Benefits
If the adult child is disabled with a disability that began before the age of 22, that individual will be eligible for benefits after their parent or guardian dies. They must be unmarried, age 18 or older, have a qualified disability that started before age 22, have never worked over SGA, and meet the definition of disability for adults.
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