Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivors benefits depends on the worker’s age at the time of death. It may be as little as 1-1/2 years for a young worker. No one needs more than 10 years.
Who May Receive Monthly Benefits?
- A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), 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) married to the deceased 10 years of more, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
- Unmarried children up to age 18 age (19 if they are attending primary or secondary school full time.)
- Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remain disabled.
- Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support.
Lump Sum Deathy Payment
A one time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment may be made to a dependent child who is eligible for benefits.
How to Apply for Benefits
The funeral home notifies Social Security of every death we handle. This alerts them to stop paying benefits. However, the funeral home cannot apply for any benefits. Survivors must apply in order to receive benefits. You can call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. To speak to a representative, call between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm Monday to Friday. The representative can answer specific questions and schedule an appointment at the nearest Social Security office, or, in some cases can set up a telephone appointment. The nearest Social Security office in our area is located at 7 Glenwood Avenue in East Orange. You may need some of the documents shown on the list below especially if the worker or the survivor is under 65.
- 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)
- Your birth certificate
- A marriage certificate, if you are applying for benefits as widow or widower, divorced wife or divorced spouse.
- 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. Once you have given or mailed them to the Social Security office, they will make photocopies and return your original documents. However, don’t delay your application because you don’t have all the necessary documents or information. Call Social Security at their toll free number 1-800-772-1213 and they will tell you which of the above documents they need to complete the claim. If you don’t have a document you need, Social Security may help you obtain it.
For More Information
Locations and directions of nearby offices as well as additional information can be obtained from the Social Security website www.ssa.gov.
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks which arrive after the deceased’s date of death need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social Security payments were made by electronic (direct) deposit, the bank should be notified of the death and may require a certified death certificate.