Everything You Need to Know About Social Security Death Benefits

Social Security benefits can be helpful to families after a loss. The benefit comes in two forms: a lump sum payment and monthly survivor benefits. One way we help families during their time of need is by informing the Social Security Administration of the loss to help ensure appropriate benefits are paid out.

Who Qualifies for Benefits

Qualifications for each type of benefit vary, but benefits are typically only paid out if the deceased worked long enough during their lifetime to earn a minimum number of credits for the benefit. That work must also have been completed under Social Security, which means the individual reported their income and paid into the Social Security system via taxes.

Lump Sum Social Security Death Benefits

To qualify for a one-time Social Security death benefit payment of $255, you must have been married to the person at the time they passed. You must also have been living with that person or receiving certain types of SS benefits as the spouse of the deceased.


In cases where a spouse is not eligible to receive the lump sum benefit, a child of the deceased may receive the benefit instead. The child must have been eligible to receive Social Security benefits on the record of the person who passed away during the month when the death occurred.


The Social Security Administration considers individuals to be covered for this benefit if they had six quarters of earnings under Social Security within the 13 quarters prior to their death. That would mean anyone who was employed and paying taxes or drawing a retirement income and paying taxes for 1.5 years of the 3.25 years prior to their death would be covered under this benefit.

On-going Monthly Survivor Benefits

Some individuals may be eligible to receive a monthly survivor benefit. In most cases, the following types of surviving family members can receive benefits.


  • Widows and widowers who are older than 59
  • Widows and widowers who are older than age 49 and disabled
  • Widows and widowers caring for a child of the deceased, as long as that child is 15 or under or is disabled and was receiving Social Security benefits under the deceased's record
  • Unmarried children of the deceased who were disabled prior to 22 years of age, are younger than 18 or are full-time students


In some cases, stepchildren, adopted children, grandchildren or dependent parents may also be eligible for a benefit.


The amount of benefits received by survivors depends on the amount the individual paid into Social Security over the years.

Misconceptions About Social Security Death Benefits

Many people believe that Medicaid or Social Security benefits will help cover costs for a funeral, but that's not true. There are some government benefits that can help with burial costs, such as veterans’ benefits, but most people don't have a federal death benefit for such a purpose.


Individuals and families can reduce the financial burdens associated with a loss by pre-planning with All County Funeral Home & Crematory. By planning ahead, you can take advantage of current pricing, which is likely less than pricing in the future might be, and cover the costs of burial or funeral services over time so your family doesn't have to consider such factors at their time of need.

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