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Social Security

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you need to contact the Social Security Office to report the death. If you think you may be eligible for survivor's benefits, you should also contact them to apply.

How Social Security Helps Families
Social Security survivor's benefits help ease the financial burden that follows a worker's death. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits, too.

Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivor's benefits depends on the worker's age at the time of death. It may be as little as one and one half years for a young worker; no one needs more than 10 years.

Who can get survivor's benefits?
This is a list of family members who usually can get benefits:

In addition to the monthly benefits for family members, a one-time payment of $255 can be paid to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death. If there is none, it can be paid to a spouse who is eligible for benefits, or a child or children eligible for benefits. This payment cannot be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.

How To Apply For Benefits
You can apply for benefits by telephone, or by going to any Social Security office. You may need some of the documents shown on the list below, but don't delay your application because you don't have all the information. If you don't have a document you need, Social Security can help you get it.

The information you need includes:

You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to the office. Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents.

Supplemental Security Information
If you are 65 or older, disabled, or blind, ask the Social Security representative about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks for people with limited income and resources. If you receive SSI, you may also qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, and other social services.

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks which arrive after death will need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social Security checks were being directly deposited into a bank account, the bank needs to be notified of the death, too.

For more information, write or visit any social security office, visit the Social Security Website or phone toll-free 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a representative weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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