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.
Eligibility For The Social Security Death Benefits And Survivors’ Benefits
Those who reached full retirement age and worked for at least 10 years while paying Social Security taxes earn their full Social Security benefits, and in doing so they also leave behind the highest potential survivors benefits when they pass away.
Survivors benefits are paid to eligible spouses and family members, and the benefit paid is based on the amount of Social Security benefits the deceased received at the time they passed away.
Eligibility for Medicare health insurance benefits is mostly reserved for those who have reached 65 years of age, but Medicare is offered regardless of work history. However, a person may have to pay more for Medicare Part A premiums if they did not work or pay Social Security taxes for the full 10 years.
The insurance companies use the following criteria to determine the spouses and children eligible for the Social Security death benefits:
- The remaining spouse should be over 60 years of age.
- A disabled spouse who has reached 50-59 years whose disability started before or within seven years of the workers date of death.
- Children who are under 18 years.
- A surviving spouse caring for the deceaseds child who is disabled or under 16 years of age.
- Any child with a disability as long as the disability began before 22 years of age.
- Parents over 62 years who depended on half of the financial support of the deceased.
How The Social Security Death Benefit Works
Whenever someone in your family passes away, its important to notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. Normally, the funeral director laying your loved one to rest handles this task. But depending on the circumstances, you may need to notify the SSA yourself. Regardless, someone must notify the SSA within two years of the date on your loved ones death certificate. Once that deadline passes, survivors cannot apply for the lump-sum $255 Social Security death benefit.
Other people who may be eligible to apply for a Social Security death benefit include:
- The deceased workers unmarried child younger than 19 years old
- Divorced spouses, in certain cases
No matter who applies, the SSA usually pays the Social Security death benefit in a single lump-sum payment. That means the first eligible applicant will receive that $255 payment. If several eligible children apply at the same time, the SSA divides that one-time $255 payment evenly among them.
Read Also: How Much Will I Get Social Security
What Are Social Security Survivor Benefits
Social Security survivor benefits are payments that are made to eligible survivors of a deceased beneficiary.
Eligible survivors include:
- Widows and widowers age 60 or older
- Surviving divorced spouses
- Widows and widowers of any age who are caring for the deceaseds child who is under age 16 or disabled
- Unmarried children of the deceased who are under 18, or are 18 or over and disabled
- Stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and adopted children
- Parents aged 62 or older who were depending on the deceased for at least half their support
These payments can be made on a monthly basis with amounts based on the benefits the deceased beneficiary was receiving and their relationship to the survivor. Heres an overview of how survivor benefit amounts compare:
- Widows and widowers who are full retirement age or older may receive 100% of the deceased beneficiarys benefit amount.
- Widows and widowers age 60 up to full retirement age can receive 71.5% to 99% of the deceased beneficiarys amount.
- Disabled widows and widowers age 50 to 59 can receive 71.5% of the benefit amount.
- Widows and widowers caring for a child under 16 can receive 75% of the benefit amount.
- Children under age 18 or disabled can receive 75% of the benefit amount.
- Dependent parents aged 62 or older can receive 75% of the benefit amount each or 82.5% if only one parent survives.
Divorced surviving spouses may be eligible to receive the same amounts as widows and widowers.
Survivor Benefits Also Can Help Pay Funeral Expenses
The single funeral grant payment of $255 is not the same as Social Security survivors benefits. Survivors benefits are ongoing monthly payments that extend the deceaseds retirement benefits to certain survivors. These include:
- A surviving spouse aged 60 or older, or age 50 if there is a qualifying disability
- A surviving spouse, regardless of age, who is left to care for a minor child under the age of 18 .
- Unmarried minor children of the beneficiary up to age 18, or age 19 if they are full-time students
- Adult children who are over the age of 18 but who have a permanent disability that began before age 22
- Parents who were dependent for at least 50% of their financial support
- Divorced former spouses, if the marriage lasted at least ten years
Survivor benefits continue the deceaseds monthly payments and will be paid as long as the recipient remains eligible. There are no restrictions on how the funds may be spent and typically are not treated as income for tax purposes. Of course, its always best to check with an accountant to determine how to report any Social Security income.
You May Like: Figure Out Social Security Benefits
Divorced Spouse’s Survivors Benefit
If the disabled worker was receiving or entitled to receive SSDI, a surviving divorced spouse is entitled to SSDI benefits if she is 6o years or older, 50 years or older and disabled, or caring for her deceased ex-husband’s minor or disabled child. For more information, see our article on survivor benefits.
Other Things You Need To Know
There are limits on how much survivors may earn while they receive benefits.
Benefits for a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse may be affected by several additional factors:
- If you remarry before you reach age 60 , you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married.
- If you remarry after you reach age 60 , you will continue to qualify for benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record.
- If you receive benefits as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse, you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you are eligible for retirement benefits and your retirement rate is higher than your rate as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse.
- In many cases, a widow or widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then, at full retirement age, switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate.
- If you will also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, your Social Security benefits as a survivor may be affected.
However, if your current spouse is a Social Security beneficiary, you may want to apply for spouse’s benefits on their record. If that amount is more than your widow’s or widower’s benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount.
Also Check: How Do I Figure Out My Social Security Benefits
Lump Sum Death Benefit
First, lets deal with the one-time payment formerly called a funeral benefit. Upon the death of a Social Security beneficiary, the Social Security Administration pays a lump-sum death payment of $255. Needless to say, the $255 one time payment doesnt quite cover the cost of a funeral. Its been stuck at that level for several years and inflation has significantly eroded its useful value.
There are three categories of people who may receive the death payment:
If there are no eligible survivors in either of these three categories, then no death benefit is paid.
Even though $255 isnt a lot, who wants to pass on money thats rightfully theirs? If the eligible spouse or child is not receiving benefits at the time of death, they must apply for benefits within two years in order to receive the death payment.
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.
S To Apply For $255 Social Security Death Benefit
You cannot apply for this one-time payment online. Follow these steps to either apply by phone or in person at your local Social Security office:
Eligible spouses and children may also qualify for monthly survivors benefits. Need help getting benefits after the SSA turned you down or want to apply for disability? from a local advocate within one business day.
What Information Do I Need To Apply For Childs Benefits
You need to provide the following documents when applying for Childs Benefit:
- Birth certificate of the child you are applying for
- Proof of your marriage to the childs other parent
- U.S. citizenship proof for child
- W-2 forms or self-employment tax return if the child worked and had earnings in the last year
- If one of the childs parents is deceased you need to provide proof of death and U.S. military discharge papers.
If the child you are applying for was disabled before the age of 22 you need to fill out the following forms:
You could also receive benefits for taking care of the child. Provide the following documents to help the Social Security Administration determine if you are eligible:
- Your proof of birth or birth certificate
- Proof of marriage
- U.S. citizenship proof or proof of lawful alien status
Recommended Reading: How To Take Social Security
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.
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 .
You May Like: How Many Years To Collect Social Security
Mother Or Fathers Benefits
If you are applying for survivors benefits as someone caring for the deceased workers child you will need to provide the following documents to Social Security:
The Social Security Administration Pays A Small Grant
The funeral grant, first enacted in 1935, was a one-time payment of $255. In todays dollars, that sum was the equivalent of $2,500, making it an adequate amount of support for most Americans funerals.
Nearly ninety years later, that amount has not been adjusted upward by Congress, so the $255 represents a contribution of about three percent of the cost of an average funeral in 2021, paid to an eligible survivor. Eligible survivors include the spouse or if the spouse is no longer living, the child of the beneficiary who meets the Social Security Administrations criteria.
Don’t Miss: Socai Security
Talk To A Disability Lawyer
Need a lawyer? Start here.
Lost Or Stolen Federal Payments
Report your lost, missing, or stolen federal check to the agency that issued the payment. It’s usually one of these paying agencies. If your documentation indicates it’s a different agency, and you need its contact information, look in the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.
To get an update on your claim, contact the Treasury Department Philadelphia Financial Center at 1-855-868-0151, option 1.
Also Check: Who Can Get Social Security
How Can A Social Security Agreement Help Me Qualify For Benefits
A social security agreement can help you qualify for benefits by allowing you to combine your periods of contribution or periods of residency in Canada with your periods of contribution or periods of residency in the other country to meet the minimum eligibility criteria. It can also reduce or eliminate restrictions based on citizenship or on payment of pensions abroad.