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What Happens to my Social Security Benefits When I Die?

What Happens to my Social Security Benefits when I Die?When there is a death in your family, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t Social Security; and it shouldn’t be. But it should be noted that some of the decedent’s family members may be able to receive Social Security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits. In order to find out what, if any, benefits you or your family may be entitled to, you should contact the Social Security Administration.

Here are some of the benefits that you and/or your family may be entitled to:

  • A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased – or if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased’s record in the month of death.
  • The following family members may also be eligible to receive monthly benefits:
    • A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
    • A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child under age 16 or if the child is disabled;
    • An unmarried child of the deceased who is:
      • i.      Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or
      • ii.      Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22;
    • A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild or adopted child under certain circumstances;
    • Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and
    • A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.

Social Security gives, but also takes away.

Provided the decedent was receiving Social Security benefits, the benefit received for the month of death or any later months must be returned to the Social Security Administration. For example, if the person dies in August, you must return the benefit paid in September.

Although you might be tempted to try to keep the money, it is not advisable. The Social Security Administration will be informed of the death and will take action to recoup any benefits that were paid to the decedent post-death.

You may need to take different steps to return them depending on how the benefits were paid. For instance, if benefits were paid by direct deposit, you should contact the bank or other financial institution and request that any funds received for the month of death or later be returned to Social Security. If paid by check, you should not cash any benefit checks received for the month in which the person dies or later, and should return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible.

If you have questions or need help determining how to manage the Social Security aspects of a loved one’s estate, please contact Russo Law Group P.C. today at (800) 680-1717.

Eric J. Einhart

Eric J. Einhart
Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530
800-680-1717

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