Does Social Security Provide Death Benefits?

When a person passes away, Social Security Survivor’s benefits can help ease the financial burden on their surviving spouse or children. If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of the taxes you pay go into survivor’s insurance. Social Security provides two different types of death benefits: a lump-sum benefit and/or monthly benefits. When going through the loss of a beloved family member or spouse it may feel overwhelming to navigate the benefits you are eligible for. Read on to learn more about each benefit and how to apply for them.


Who Can Receive Survivor Benefits?

Certain family members are eligible to receive monthly survivor benefits and they include the widowed spouse, divorced spouse, children of the deceased if they meet certain parameters (children up to age 18-19 if they attend elementary or high school full time and disabled children over 18 if they became disabled before 22), as well as the worker’s parents if they are over 62 and were supported by the worker.


Lump-Sum Death Benefit    

In addition to the monthly Social Security Survivor benefits, the deceased’s family may be eligible for a one-time payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements. The money will go to the spouse who was living with the worker at their time of death. If there is no spouse, then the lump-sum payment can go to a child. If there are neither, no one receives the payment.


Monthly Survivor Benefit           

The monthly survivor benefit you receive each month depends on several factors; mainly the deceased’s earnings. The more money they paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits will be. The amount can also be affected by whether the deceased was collecting full or reduced benefits at the time of their death. The age of the person applying can impact the amount, as well as the age of the deceased at the time of death. Usually, both spouses begin taking benefits at full retirement age (66 for those born between 1943 and 1954). After the death of a spouse, the survivor can then collect 100 percent of the deceased spouse's benefit as long as they are at full retirement age.


How to Apply for Benefits      

At this time, you are not able to report a death or apply for benefits online, it needs to be done over the phone or at your local Social Security office.


Social Security Administration - Lynn

140 Union Street

Lynn, MA 01901


Social Security Administration - Salem

10 Federal Street

Salem, MA 01970


For more information you can contact Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day at 1-800-772-1213 or you can visit

them online at

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