If an individual is receiving Social Security and passes away, most of the time, the funeral director will contact Social Security and inform them of the individual’s death. Usually, the only thing that the funeral director will need is the individual’s Social Security number.
If the individual was receiving Social Security benefits, the family must return the benefit that was received for the month of death or any later months. An example would be if an individual passed away in April, then you must return the benefit that was paid for in May. You can sometimes work with the individual’s financial institution to make sure that any payment received that the family is not entitled to be returned to Social Security.
Depending on who the survivors are, certain family members may be able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of the death of a loved one. Some family members may be entitled to a $255.00 death benefit. Usually, the surviving spouse who was living with the deceased individual is entitled to this Social Security death benefit. If there is a child who is eligible to receive continued Social Security benefits as a result of the death of their parent, then they may be entitled to this $255.00 Social Security death benefit as well.
Also, there may be other individuals who may be eligible to receive monthly Social Security benefits. Those individuals are:
- A surviving spouse who is aged 60 or older;
- A surviving spouse who is any age and who is caring for the deceased individual’s child who is under age 16 or who is disabled;
- An unmarried child of the deceased individual who is either under age 18 or 18 or older who has a disability;
- Parents who are aged 62 or older who were dependent on the deceased individual; or
- A surviving divorced spouse if certain criteria are met.
Therefore, it is very important for a family member to contact Social Security to determine whether or not any family member would be entitled to any of these benefits.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
James F. Contini II, Esq.
Certified Specialist in Estate Planning,
Trust & Probate Law by the OSBA
Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., LPA
405 Chauncey Avenue NW
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663