The funeral home will report the person’s death to Social Security. If you need to apply for benefits, call (800) 772-1213. You can speak to a Social Security representative 7 AM - 7 PM Monday through Friday. You can also contact your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to speak to someone.
- If you are getting benefits on your spouse's or parent's record:
- You generally will not need to file an application for survivors’ benefits.
- Automatically change benefits you receive to survivor benefits after the report of death.
- We may be able to pay the Special Lump-Sum Death Payment automatically.
- If you are getting retirement or disability benefits on your own record:
- You will need to apply for the survivor benefits.
- We will check to see whether you can get a higher benefit as a widow or widower.
- If you are not getting benefits, you should apply for survivor benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive.
Who Can Get Survivor Benefits?
Here is a list of family members who usually can get benefits:
- Widows and widowers age 60 or older.
- Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased’s child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled.
- Divorced wives and husbands, 60 or older, if married to the deceased 10 years or more.
- Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
- Children up to age 18; Children over age 18, if they become disabled before age 22.
- Children age 18 – 19, if they attend elementary school or high school full time.
- Children over age 18, if they become disabled before age 22.
- Deceased worker’s parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.
How to apply for benefits
You can apply for benefits by telephone. You may need some of the documents shown on the list below. But don’t delay your application because you don’t have all the information. If you don’t have a document you need, Social Security can help you get it.
For additional information please go to https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/howtoapply.html
Information that may be needed
- Your Social Security number and the deceased’s Social Security number.
- A death certificate. (Generally the funeral director sends in a statement that is used for this purpose.)
- Proof of the deceased worker’s earnings for last year (w-2 forms or self-employment tax return)
- Your birth certificate
- Marriage certificate, if you are applying for benefits as a widow/widower.
- Divorced wife or divorced husband – a divorce decree, if you are applying for benefits as a divorced wife or husband. Children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children’s benefits.
- Your checking and savings account information, if you want direct deposit of your benefits.
- US Military Discharge papers (if the deceased was in the military before 1968).
- Disability Forms
- Other proof of citizenship
You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to the office. Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents.
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks which arrive after death will need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social Security checks were directly deposited into a bank account, the bank needs to be notified of the death, too.
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