Does Social Security Pay For Funeral Expenses
The Social Security Administration pays a small grant to eligible survivors of some beneficiaries to help with the cost of a funeral. In 2020, this amount was set by law at $255 for SSI recipients. The heirs of a beneficiary who has passed have some flexibility in how this benefit is paid out and what it may be used to pay for.
If You’re Already Receiving Retirement Benefits
For those already being paid retirement benefits, they can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the current retirement benefit being received is less than the survivor benefit. In other words, they’ll pay you the higher of the two benefits. However, both benefits cannot be combined together and taken at the same time.
How To Submit An Application For Social Security Survivors Benefits
If youre the husband or wife of a deceased spouse who earned Social Security earnings credits over his or her working life, you may want to know how to submit an application for Social Security survivors benefits.
Social Security Administration currently provides retirement benefits to more than 40 million Americans. However, SSA also provides financial assistance to widows, widowers, and dependent children when an insured spouse or parent dies. According to the law of the Social Security Act, a person who has paid Social Security taxes over the years earns potential Social Security insurance benefits for themselves and certain family members.
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If You Are The Survivor
Just as you plan for your family’s protection if you die, you should consider the Social Security benefits that may be available if you are the survivor that is, the spouse, child, or parent of a worker who dies. That person must have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits.
How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits
A worker can earn up to four credits each year. In 2021, for example, your spouse can earn one credit for each $1,470 of wages or self-employment income. When your spouse has earned $5,880, they have earned their four credits for the year.
The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when they die. No one needs more than 40 credits to be eligible for any Social Security benefit. But, the younger a person is, the fewer credits they must have for family members to receive survivors benefits.
Benefits can be paid to the worker’s children and the surviving spouse who is caring for the children even if the worker doesn’t have the required number of credits. They can get benefits if the worker has credit for one and one-half years of work in the three years just before their death. Each persons situation is different and you need to talk to a Social Security claims representative about your choices.
Eligible For Benefits In The Last 12 Months
There’s an exception for those who recently applied for retirement benefits. If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you might be allowed to withdraw your retirement application and apply for survivor benefits only. You can then reapply for your retirement benefits later when the benefits will be a higher amount.
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Workers With Too Few Social Security Credits
Can you get Social Security if you never worked? No, because a minimum requirement to collect Social Security retirement benefits is performing enough work. The Social Security Administration defines enough work as earning 40 Social Security credits. More specifically, in 2021, an individual receives one credit for each $1,470 in income, and they can earn a maximum of four credits per year. So, 40 credits are roughly equal to 10 years of work.
If you earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, then youll need 202.75 hours of work to receive one . By working just 17 hours a week for 50 weeks at this wage , you can earn the maximum credits per year. That means even those who work part-time so they can attend school or care for a childor those who work part-time because they cannot find full-time workcan amass Social Security credits without too much trouble.
Earned credits never expire, so anyone who has left the workforce with close to 40 credits might consider going back and doing the minimum additional work they need to qualify. You can check the number of credits you have so far by opening a Social Security account on the Social Security website and downloading your Social Security statement.
Social Security Survivor Benefits: The Complete Guide
Whenever Im asked about how Social Security survivor benefits work, I have a simple answer:
At death of the first spouse, surviving spouses receive the higher of:
- Their own monthly benefit, or
- The monthly benefit of the deceased.
Thats the clean and straightforward answer, but its not quite that simple. Although Social Security survivor benefits really are pretty simple, every family is different. Unique situations and variables can introduce some complexity.
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Eligibility For A Widows Or Widowers Benefit
Widows or widowers benefits are not awarded automatically. You will first need to check whether you are eligible by using our .
The survivors retirement pension.
You will need to choose the effective date for your survivors retirement pension. The date you choose must be the first day of the month and must not fall before your 55th birthday .
If you apply for your survivors retirement pension within a 12-month period following the pensioners death, you can set the effective date for the first day of the month following the death. Once the 12-month period is up, the earliest date you can choose is the first day of the month following submission of your application.
- If you are residing in France
- If you are residing in another country
- Has your country of residence signed a social security agreement with France?
- Contact the local security institution in your country of residence. You will be issued with an international form which you will need to fill out, sign, and return to that institution. That institution will then forward it over to us.
- N.B.: Using the international form will ensure that all of your entitlements are taken into account. Do not send us the French form.
Are you residing in a country with no social security agreement with France?
Social Security Survivor Benefits
When you think of Social Security, you probably think of retirement. However, Social Security can also provide much-needed income to your family members when you die, making their financial lives easier.
Your family members may be eligible to receive survivor benefits if you worked, paid Social Security taxes, and earned enough work credits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you die. The younger you are when you die, the fewer credits youll need for survivor benefits. However, no one needs more than 40 credits to be fully insured for benefits. And under a special rule, if youre only currently insured at the time of your death , your children and your spouse who is caring for them can still receive benefits.
Survivor benefits may be paid to:
- Your spouse age 60 or older
- Your spouse at any age, if caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled
- Your ex-spouse age 60 or over who was married to you for at least 10 years
- Your ex-spouse at any age, if caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled
- Your unmarried children under 18
- Your unmarried children under 19, if attending school full time
- Your dependent parents age 62 or older
This is a general overviewthe rules are more complex. For more information on eligibility requirements, contact the Social Security Administration at 772-1213.
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Advanced Filing Strategies For Survivors
In early 2018 the Office of the Inspector General released a report with some shocking news. 82% of widows and widowers who are receiving Social Security survivors benefits are actually entitled to a higher monthly benefit payment. The only problem is, the SSA never made them aware of this. This affected an estimated 9,224 widows and widowers 70 and older who could have received an additional $131.8 million in Social Security benefits had they been told they could delay filing for retirement benefits until reaching age 70.
Theres no need to wait for them to tell you about itlets jump in right now.
Prior to 2016 there were several popular Social Security filing strategies that would allow an individual to file for certain benefits and later switch back to their own benefits. The benefit of this was to allow their own benefits to grow with the 8% per year delayed retirement credits However, law changes in 2016 did away with many of the Social Security filing strategies. The one that remains belongs to survivors and it can be powerful. Heres how it works.
If you have a benefit based on your own work history, it could make sense to file for a reduced survivors benefit as early as 60. While you are drawing your survivor benefit, your own benefit grows every month you delay filing for it. Generally, these adjustments could grow your benefit by 77% from age 62 to age 70. At age 70, you simply switch back to your own benefit .
How To Receive Federal Benefits
To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Call the Go Direct Helpline at .
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at .
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
Learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
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Calculating The Benefit Amount
Figuring out how much youll receive in Social Security survivor benefits requires a little math. The simple explanation is that at the death of the first spouse, surviving spouses receives the higher of their own benefit, or the benefit of the deceased. But this simple explanation doesnt consider what age the deceased filed for benefits, if they did at all, and when the surviving spouse decides to file.
If the Deceased DID NOT File for Benefits
If the deceased spouse never filed for benefits, but died on or before their full retirement age, the calculation is relatively easy. The survivor receives the deceaseds full retirement age benefit, adjusted for the survivors filing age .
If the deceased spouse never filed for benefits, and died after their full retirement age, the survivor receives the deceaseds benefit in the same amount it would have been on the date of the deceaseds death reduced for the filing age of the survivor. You can see the next chart for more information on age-based reductions that come into play in both cases.
But what if the deceased spouse filed for benefits before he passed away? If this is the case, it could get a little more confusing.
If the Deceased DID File for Benefits
When it doesnt pay to delay
How Does Social Security Help You When Your Loved One Dies
When someone dies, you should notify the Social Security Administration as soon as you can.
The Social Security Administration will provide information and access to certain benefits when your spouse has died.
There is a one-time Death Benefit, payments under Survivors Benefits, and you may be eligible to apply for your deceased spouses Social Security Retirement benefits.
To learn more about these provisions read on or view this link. .
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A Few Other Situations:
- If you already receive benefits as a spouse, your benefit will automatically convert to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death.
- If you are also eligible for retirement benefits , you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other benefit later.
- For those already receiving retirement benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the retirement benefit you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor.
If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you may be able towithdraw your retirement application and apply for survivors benefits only. If you do that, you can reapply for the retirement benefits later when they will be higher.
What Questions Will Ss Ask Me When I Apply For Death Benefits
You will be asked:
- Your Social Security number and your name
- The deceased persons name, gender, birthday, and so on
- The deceased persons date and place of death
- If the deceased worker ever filed for Social Security Benefit, Supplementary Income, or Medicare
- If the deceased person ever served in the military. If so, the details of their service.
- If the deceased person was not able to work due to an illness, condition, or injury during the 14 months before their death
- If the deceased person worked 7 years or more for the railroad
- Name, dates of birth, SSN, and other information of any previous spouses of the deceased person.
- Names, birthdays, and information of any children 19 or under or disabled before the age of 22.
- The deceased persons earnings
- If the deceased person has a parent who relied on them
- If you were living with the deceased person at the time of death
If you are the persons surviving spouse, you will also be asked:
- If you have been unable to work for any reason
- If you have applied for any benefits, medicare, or Supplementary Security Income.
- Name, date, birth, and any other info of your previous spouses.
Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby
The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.
Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:
- Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
- Open a bank account in their name
- Get medical coverage for them
- Apply for government services for them
Keep your Social Security card in a safe place to protect yourself from identity theft.
How Do Social Security Survivor Benefits Work
The first thing you need to know about is how Social Security is funded in general: You pay into Social Security through payroll taxes. If youre a traditional employee, you pay 6.2% on the first $142,800 of your earnings for Social Security in 2021, plus 1.45% for Medicare, or a total of 7.65%. Your employer then matches that 7.65%.
In 2021, you get one Social Security credit for every $1,470 you earn, but you cant earn more than four credits in a year. Once you have 40 credits, the equivalent of 10 years of full-time work, youre considered fully insured. The requirement is lower for younger workers. When youre fully insured, that means youll be eligible for retirement benefits. That also means certain family members may be eligible to take survivor benefits based on your record when you die.
Before we go any further, there are two key terms you need to know that apply to both Social Security retirement benefits and survivor benefits.
- Full retirement age : The age at which you qualify for your primary insurance amount. If you were born before 1954, your full retirement age is 66. For people born between 1954 and 1960, its between 66 and 67. For anyone born in 1960 or later, its 67.
If you die before you start taking Social Security benefits, your survivors benefits are based on your primary insurance benefit. Lets look at a few different scenarios. In all of them, well assume your full retirement age is 67 and your primary insurance amount is $3,000 a month.
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How To Stop Social Security Check Payments
The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.
If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.
Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.
What Conditions Do I Need To Meet
Entitlement to the survivorspension commences the day following the death of the pensioner, subject to the requirements indicated above. The widow or widower who then remarries is entitled only to a one-time payment .
For survivors to be entitled to the indirect pension, the deceased worker, not retired, must have accrued the following minimum qualifying conditions to obtain the ordinary incapacity benefit or the disability pension :
- at least 15 years of contributions in any given period,
- at least 5 years of contributions , of which at least 3 were in the course of the 5 years prior to the date of death.
Requirements for entitlement to the INAIL life annuity and duration of benefits for children:
- no requirements are imposed on the surviving spouse up to death or re-marriage
- the amount due to all children up to the age of 18
- up to the age of 21, the following requirements must be met: secondary school attendance, being dependent and not having a paid job
- up to the age of 26, the following requirements must be met: degree course attendance, being dependent and not having a paid job
- adults unable to work, for as long as the incapacity lasts
- adults who are fully incapacitated, until death.
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