Collect social security benefit

Settle the Estate

Social Security is a federally funded insurance program that provides benefit payments to the surviving family of a deceased person.

After a death, it's important that you contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) very soon to not only request these benefits, but to prevent someone from committing identity theft using the deceased's Social Security Number.

There may be a variety of different types of Death Benefits available a Surviving Family, but eligibility is based upon a variety of circumstances, so it's best to speak with the Social Security Administration to identify what is most applicable.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know In addition to ongoing survivor benefits, the surviving spouse or children of a deceased person may also be eligible for a one time payment of $255.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant You cannot report a death to the Social Security Administration through their website, it can only be done by phone. Call them using the module below.

Personal Considerations


Did the deceased collect social security benefits?


Call the Social Security Administration to report the death (you cannot do this on their website). If you're already working with a funeral home, they may call on your behalf.

Follow the automated prompts to connect to the right department, and inform the customer service representative that you are calling to notify them about the death of a Social Security benefit recipient.

They will provide instructions about what additional documents will be needed, such as the deceased's:

  • Death certificate
  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns
  • Marriage certificate

Before the call is over, they will also tell you if the surviving family is eligible for a one-time payment of $255.

A surviving spouse who was living with the deceased at the time of death will receive this one-time payment, but if there is no surviving spouse, it will be made to a surviving child.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant If applicable, they will also instruct you about what to do with any recently received social security benefits. Payments that were received within the same month the deceased passed, or any month after the death, will need to be returned.

For example, if a person passes away in January, the surviving spouse or executor must return the deceased’s benefit payment for February.

If funds were received by direct deposit, contact the bank and request that any payment received during the month of the death or later be returned.

Benefits received by check should be mailed back to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. Do not cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders It may be helpful to speak with a Probate Attorney if you have any questions. Find them at the links below.


The Social Security Administration should still be contacted and notified of the death, because it helps prevent against identity theft.

It can also help to notify other agencies, such as credit bureaus, that the person is deceased.

You cannot notify the Social Security Administration about the death through their website; it can only be done by phone.

You can call them by clicking here.


If the deceased was collecting social security benefits:

Call the Social Security Administration to report the death (you cannot do this on their website). If you're already working with a funeral home, they may call on your behalf.

Follow the automated prompts to connect to the right department, and inform the customer service representative that you are calling to notify them about the death of a Social Security benefit recipient.

They will provide instructions about what additional documents will be needed, such as the deceased's:

  • Death certificate
  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns
  • Marriage certificate

Before the call is over, they will also tell you if the surviving family is eligible for a one-time payment of $255.

A surviving spouse who was living with the deceased at the time of death will receive this one-time payment, but if there is no surviving spouse, it will be made to a surviving child.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant If applicable, they will also instruct you about what to do with any recently received social security benefits. Payments that were received within the same month the deceased passed, or any month after the death, will need to be returned.

For example, if a person passes away in January, the surviving spouse or executor must return the deceased’s benefit payment for February.

If funds were received by direct deposit, contact the bank and request that any payment received during the month of the death or later be returned.

Benefits received by check should be mailed back to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. Do not cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders It may be helpful to speak with a Probate Attorney if you have any questions. Find them at the links below.

If the deceased was not collecting social security benefits:

The Social Security Administration should still be contacted and notified of the death, because it helps prevent against identity theft.

It can also help to notify other agencies, such as credit bureaus, that the person is deceased.

You cannot notify the Social Security Administration about the death through their website; it can only be done by phone.

You can call them by clicking here.


Does the deceased have a surviving spouse older than 62 or children under 18?


The spouse, including a former spouse of the deceased, may qualify for spousal death benefits.

The benefit amount will vary based on the deceased’s wages and length of employment.

Review eligibility criteria and determine what information is needed to apply for the death benefit at the link below entitled, “social security spouse benefits.”

The minor children of the deceased may qualify for childrens’ death benefits.

The benefit amount will vary based on the deceased’s wages and length of employment.

Review eligibility criteria and determine what information is needed to apply for the death benefit at the link below entitled, “social security child’s benefits.”


Spousal and children’s benefits may not apply, but the parents of the deceased may qualify for a social security death benefit.

The benefit amount will vary based on the deceased’s wages and length of employment.

Review eligibility for parental benefits at the link below entitled, “social security parents’ benefits.”

Also, divorced spouses may qualify for social security survivor benefits as well.

Review eligibility criteria for spousal benefits at the link below entitled, “social security spouse benefits.”


If the deceased had a surviving spouse 62+ or child(ren) under 18:

The spouse, including a former spouse of the deceased, may qualify for spousal death benefits.

The benefit amount will vary based on the deceased’s wages and length of employment.

Review eligibility criteria and determine what information is needed to apply for the death benefit at the link below entitled, “social security spouse benefits.”

The minor children of the deceased may qualify for childrens’ death benefits.

The benefit amount will vary based on the deceased’s wages and length of employment.

Review eligibility criteria and determine what information is needed to apply for the death benefit at the link below entitled, “social security child’s benefits.”

If the deceased did not have a surviving spouse 62+ or child(ren) under 18:

Spousal and children’s benefits may not apply, but the parents of the deceased may qualify for a social security death benefit.

The benefit amount will vary based on the deceased’s wages and length of employment.

Review eligibility for parental benefits at the link below entitled, “social security parents’ benefits.”

Also, divorced spouses may qualify for social security survivor benefits as well.

Review eligibility criteria for spousal benefits at the link below entitled, “social security spouse benefits.”

Actions to Take


Call the Social Security Administration Mon - Fri, 8:00am - 5:30pm EST


Questions you will be asked by the Social Security Administration on the call


Social Security offices near you

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate Attorneys can help you identify and apply for social security benefits owed to the deceased. They help settle a deceased person’s estate.

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Settle the Estate