The following information is from the Social Security Administration web site at www.ssa.gov as of February 1, 2003. Our list of Questions and Answers is for informational purposes only. You should contact the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 to obtain the most current and accurate information for your situation.
|When a Social Security beneficiary dies, does the funeral home notify Social Security or is notification up to the family?|
|Many funeral directors, including Park View Funeral Home, voluntarily provide death information directly to Social Security. But, family members of a deceased individual still have the legal responsibility to notify Social Security. For information on what action to take when a beneficiary dies, see www.ssa.gov/pubs/deathbenefits.htm|
|What are the requirements for a survivor to receive Social Security benefits?|
|When a person dies, certain members of the family may be eligible for survivors benefits if the deceased worked, paid Social Security taxes, and earned enough credits. The number of credits a person needs depends on their age at the time of death. The younger a person is, the fewer credits are needed to be eligible for survivors benefits. However, nobody needs more than 40 credits (10 years of work) to be eligible for any Social Security benefits.|
Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:
A widow/widower-full benefits at full retirement age (currently age 65), or reduced benefits as early as age 60. A disabled widow/widower may receive benefits as early as age 50.
A widow/widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased's child under age 16 or disabled, who receives Social Security benefits.
Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time. A child can receive benefits at any age if he or she was disabled before age 22 and remains disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits can also be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
Dependent parents at 62 or older.
You may be interested to know that a former spouse can receive benefits under the same circumstances as a widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is 60 or older will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors receiving benefits.
Please note that in general, a widow/widower cannot receive benefits if they remarry before the age of 60 (50 if disabled) unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce, or annulment. However, remarriage after age 60 (50 if disabled) will not prevent payments on a former spouse's record.
The amount of the survivors benefit is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more he or she paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits will be. The amount a survivor receives is a percentage of the deceased's basic Social Security benefit. The following provides the most typical situations:
Widow or widower full retirement age (currently age 65) or older-100 percent.
Widow or widower age 60 to 64-about 71 - 94 percent.
Widow or widower at any age with a child under age 16 - 75 percent.
Children - 75 percent.
If a person is receiving widow/widower's benefits, they can switch to their own retirement benefits (assuming they are eligible and their retirement rate is higher than the widow/widower's rate) as early as age 62. In many cases, a widow/widower can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate at full retirement age. However, they will not be paid both benefits - they will be paid the higher of the two benefits.
For more information, you may call the SSA toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 and ask for our publication "Social Security - Survivors Benefits" Publication No. 05-10084 or you can access it at: www.ssa.gov/pubs/englist.html
To file for benefits, you should call 1-800-772-1213 and ask for an appointment.
|How do I report the death of a beneficiary?|
|A family member or other person responsible for the beneficiary's affairs should do the following:|
- Promptly notify Social Security of the beneficiary's death by calling SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
- If monthly benefits were being paid via direct deposit, notify the bank or other financial institution of the beneficiary's death. Request that any funds received for the month of death and later be returned to Social Security as soon as possible.
- If benefits were being paid by check, DO NOT CASH any checks received for the month in which the beneficiary died or thereafter. Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible. To find your local Social Security office, see www.ssa.gov/locator/
A one-time payment of $255 is payable to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the beneficiary at the time of death, OR if living apart, was receiving Social Security benefits on the beneficiary's earnings record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who was eligible for benefits on the beneficiary's earnings record in the month of death.
|How do I receive the Lump Sum Death Payment after a relative dies?|
|A lump-sum death benefit of $255 may be paid upon the death of a person who has worked long enough to be insured under the Social Security program. The lump-sum death benefit can be paid upon the death of the insured person even if they were not receiving retirement or disability benefits at the time of death.|
This payment is limited to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death or to a spouse or a child who, in the month of death, is eligible for a Social Security benefit based on the worker's record. If no spouse or child meeting these requirements exists, then the lump sum death payment will not be paid.
The lump sum death payment can no longer be paid to funeral homes for funeral expenses.
To file for the benefit, call 1-800-772-1213 and request an appointment for your local office.
To report a death of a beneficiary to Social Security, see the instructions at www.ssa.gov/pubs/deathbenefits.htm
|How long must you be married to a spouse to collect benefits when the spouse dies?|
|A person can qualify for widow's or widower's benefits if he or she was married to the deceased worker for at least the 9 months just before the worker died.|
The 9-month duration-of-marriage requirement is waived IF the insured person's death was accidental, or if it occurred in the line of duty while he or she was a member of a uniformed service serving on active duty, or if the widow(er) who was married to the insured person at the time of the insured's death was previously married to and divorced from him or her and the previous marriage had lasted 9 months.
The insured person's death is defined as accidental only if he or she received bodily injuries through violent, external, and accidental means and, as a direct
result of the bodily injuries and independent of all other causes, died within 3 months after the day on which the injuries were received.
The exception to the 9-month duration-of-marriage requirement does not apply if at the time of the marriage the insured person could not reasonably have been expected to live for 9 months.
|Can I file a claim for the $255.00 death benefit for my brother?|
|No. This payment is limited to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death or to a spouse or a child who, in the month of death, is eligible for a Social Security benefit based on the worker's record.|
|If I receive widow's benefits and remarry, how does this affect my benefits?|
|In general, a widow/widower cannot receive benefits if they remarry before the age of 60 (50 if disabled) unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce, or annulment. However, remarriage after age 60 (50 if disabled) will not prevent payments on a former spouse's record.|
|My two children and I have been receiving survivors benefits since my wife died. Will these benefits continue if I remarry?|
|Your remarriage would have no effect on the benefits being paid to your children. If you get benefits only because you are caring for your children, your benefits would end at the time of your remarriage unless you marry someone who is receiving Social Security benefits.|
|Can a child receive benefits on the record of a grandparent?|
|A dependent grandchild or step-grandchild of the number holder (worker) or spouse may qualify for benefits as a "child" if:|
The grandchild's natural or adoptive parents are deceased or disabled at the time the worker became entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits or died, or at the beginning of the worker's period of disability which continued until the worker became entitled to disability or retirement insurance benefits or died.
The grandchild can also become eligible if he or she was legally adopted by the worker's surviving spouse in an adoption decreed by a court of competent jurisdiction within the U.S., and the grandchild's natural or adopting parent or stepparent was not living in the same household and making regular contributions to the child's support at the time the insured worker died.
Besides meeting the above requirements, the grandchild or step-grandchild must be dependent on the insured. To be dependent on the insured worker, a grandchild or step-grandchild must have:
Begun living with the worker before the grandchild became 18 years old; and
Lived with the worker in the U.S. and received at least one-half support from the worker:
For the year before the month the worker became entitled to retirement or disability insurance benefits or died; or
If the worker had a period of disability that lasted until he or she became entitled to benefits or died, for the year immediately before the month in which the period of disability began.
If the grandchild was born during the one-year period, the worker must have lived with and provided at least one-half of the grandchild's support for substantially all of the period from the date of the grandchild's birth to the month indicated above.
|How can a parent be entitled to survivors benefits?|
|A. The insured person was fully insured at the time of death; and|
B. The parent files an application for parent's benefits; and
C. The parent has reached age 62; and
D. The parent is not entitled to a retirement insurance benefit that is equal to or larger than the amount of the unadjusted parent's insurance benefit after any increase to the minimum benefit; and
E. The parent was receiving at least one-half support from the insured person; and
F. Evidence that the support requirement was met has been filed with the Social Security Administration within the appropriate time limit; and
G. The parent has not remarried since the insured person's death; and
H. One of the following conditions is met:
1. The parent is a natural parent and would be eligible under the law of the State of the worker's domicile to share in the intestate personal property of the worker as the worker's father or mother, as the case may be; or
2. The parent had legally adopted the insured person before he or she attained age 16; or
3. The person claiming benefits became the deceased's stepparent by a marriage entered into before the deceased had attained age 16.