At the death of a loved one, life appears to occur at a lightning pace. We are grieving and making numerous decisions to give our family comfort. One of the first items that should be completed is to report the death to the Social Security Administration. However, do not be surprised if it learns of the death prior to your contact. Usually, if funeral arrangements were made, the funeral director will report the individual’s death to the agency. If not, the social security number of the decedent will be needed to provide notice.
Regarding assistance from the government, the family of the deceased may be able to receive benefits if the decedent worked long enough to qualify. Typically, an appointment can be made with a representative at your local office, as it is often difficult to get through on the telephone. According to Social Security, there are various benefits that may be available.
A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living together with the decedent. However, even if the couple may have been living separately, if the surviving spouse was receiving benefits on the deceased’s record, the one-time benefit may still be available. If there is no surviving spouse, then a child eligible for benefits on the decedent’s record may receive payment. Additional family members may also be eligible, including minor or disabled children, a widow or widower age 60 or older, or elder parents, 62 or older, if they were dependent on their deceased child. Importantly, the deceased’s benefits received for the month of death, or later months, must be returned, except in limited circumstances. If the funds were received by direct deposit, you should ensure money remains in the account so it can be retrieved by the financial institution.
It is advisable for the Successor Trustee or Personal Representative to set up a consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney to be sure the proper steps and deadlines are being met.