Your questions answered
The following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Social Security benefits.
Does Social Security provide a death benefit?
Social Security provides a lump-sum death payment (LSDP) of $255, only if you qualify. This is in addition to any monthly cash benefits you may qualify for. The LSDP may be paid to:
- A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.
- A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.
- A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.
Your funeral director will notify Social Security of the death, but you will need to contact SSA to apply for benefits if eligible.
Who is eligible to receive Social Security benefits?
In order for a family member to receive benefits, the deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 ½ to 10 years depending on his or her age at death. The following family members may receive benefits:
- A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
- A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
- Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full time).
- Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled.
- Dependent parent or parents 62 or older.
How do I apply for Social Security benefits?
You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone. To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm on regular business days. At other times and on weekends and holidays, you may leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, the next business day. For more information on Social Security benefits, visit the Social Security Administration web site at www.ssa.gov.