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Obtaining Social Security Benefits After a Loved One Dies

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has provided guidance for how Social Security can help you when a family member dies. Here, we will discuss some of the important factors that are considered when the SSA is determining Social Security benefit availability.

How Can Social Security Help When a Family Member Dies?

The following are some of the key benefits that may be available to a surviving spouse:

  • The SSA can pay a one-time payment of $255 benefit to a surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased.
  • Even if the couple was living apart and getting certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record, the surviving spouse may still be able to get this one-time payment.

Children may also be entitled to certain benefits. For example, if there’s no surviving spouse, a child who’s eligible for benefits on the deceased’s record in the month of death can get the $255 benefit.

Also, certain other family members may be eligible to receive benefits, including:

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
  • A widow or widower any age caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled;
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is:
    • Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or
    • Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22;
  • A stepchild, grandchild, step grandchild or adopted child (under certain circumstances);
  • Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and
  • A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.

However, the SSA reminds us that if the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, benefits received for the month of death or any later months must be returned.

Determining who is entitled to what benefits and when can be very complicated. If you have any questions, you can contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You may also want to review the SSA’s website: http://www.ssa.gov.

If you have questions, contact our office right away and we can work with you through the entire process.

What Should I Do After a Family Member Has Passed?

The passing of a loved one places a lot of stress on the surviving family members. Dealing with the deceased’s finances shortly after death can make the passing even more difficult. However, it is important that you get a firm understanding of the deceased’s finances, including a clear understanding of any Social Security benefits they may have been receiving.

Designate a family member to collect financial information about the deceased. That person will need to make sure that the deceased no longer receives Social Security benefits after passing. If the Social Security benefits are received after a passing, the SSA may try to get the benefits back. This can significantly complicate the distribution of the deceased’s assets.

The designated family member will also need access to the death records to get some of the benefits discussed above. Therefore, you will want to keep accurate and complete records of the deceased’s finances and death records. If there are still issues, contact us so we can assist.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Deal With the SSA After the Death of a Family Member?

Our attorneys have experience dealing with the SSA. We understand the process that you will need to go through to get all the Social Security benefits to which you are entitled. If you believe that you have been improperly denied benefits or that you are not receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to, contact one of the Tampa Social Security lawyers at Mike Murburg, P.A. for help.