social security benefits

When someone passes away, the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to be notified as soon as possible. Our team will complete the required paperwork and inform the SSA on your behalf, but you may be eligible for certain benefits of which you should be aware.

Monthly Survivor Benefits

Generally these payments are made to an eligible surviving spouse, provided they are at least 60 years of age at the time the death occurred (or 50 years if the surviving spouse is disabled.) Payment amounts range based on age and are a percentage of the amount the decedent was entitled to receive, usually between 71.5 and 100% of the total benefit.

If the surviving spouse is caring for a child of the decedent who is under 16 years of age or disabled, the minimum age requirement is waived and the payment is 75% of the eligible benefit amount.

Additional Survivor Benefits

The following groups may also be eligible to collect survivor benefits:

  • Minor and Disabled Children: A child may be eligible if they are under 18 or up to 19 and 2 months if they are still in high school full time, or have a disability dating from before they turned 22. Grandchildren and stepchildren may also qualify. All children must be unmarried to be eligible, and the payment amount will be 75% of the decedent's benefit amount.
  • Parents: Parents age 62 or older who were financially dependent on a child who dies may be eligible to receive survivor benefits. The payment amount is 82.5% of the decedent's payment for a single parent, and 75% of the payment amount for two parents.
  • Ex-Spouses: An ex-spouse can collect survivor benefits in the event that the marriage lasted 10 years or more.

Lump-Sum Death Payment

A one-time lump-sum death payment of $255 is paid to a surviving spouse if they were living with the decedent at the time of death, or if they were receiving benefits on the decedent's SSA record for the month of death in the event they were living apart. The payment can be made to a surviving child if there is not a surviving spouse, provided the child is eligible for benefits for the month of death.

Applying for Benefits

You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may also apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone or online at 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.

Contact Social Security

You may contact Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The number to use is 1-800-772-1213. You may visit the Social Security website at To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm 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.

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