The following checklist is designed to help you file for your Social Security benefits correctly so that prompt payments may be made.
The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years depending on his or her age at death. Those who may receive monthly benefits are
Lump-Sum Death Payment
- A widow or widower age 60 (50 if disabled) or older or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled
- A divorced widow or widower age 60 (50 if disabled) or older if the marriage lasted 10 years or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled
- Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full-time)
- Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled
- Dependent parent or parents 62 or older
A one-time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment (LSDP) is paid in the following priority order:
- A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death
- A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death
- A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death
Applying for Benefits
You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213, and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone. In our area, the local number is 1-866-331-9091.
- Your Social Security number and the deceased worker's Social Security number.
- A death certificate.
- Proof of the deceased worker's earnings for last year (W-2 forms or self- employment tax return).
- Your birth certificate.
- A 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 or savings account information, if you want direct deposit of your benefits.
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.
Social Security Teleservices - DOING BUSINESS BY TELEPHONE
You may call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The number to use is 1-800-772-1213. To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on regular business days. At other times and on weekends and holidays, you may leave a message, and they will call you back, in most cases, the next business day.
You may use the toll-free number to make an appointment either in a Social Security office or telephone to apply for benefits, transact other Social Security business, or just ask questions.
An Important Reminder
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 being directly deposited into a bank account, the bank needs to be notified of the death, too.