Q:

How do you apply for death benefits?

A:

Quick Answer

To apply for death benefits from the Social Security Administration, you can call or visit your local Social Security office. Before receiving benefits, you need to provide proof of death, and if you are not already receiving benefits on the record, you also need to provide proof of your relationship.

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Full Answer

  1. Report the death to the Social Security Administration

    Notify Social Security of the death as soon as possible, as some benefits are not provided retroactively. You can call its national toll-free number, or call or visit your local Social Security office. You need to provide a copy of the death certificate or a letter from the funeral home.

  2. Provide proof of relationship

    If you are not already receiving benefits on the deceased spouse's or parent's record, you also need to provide proof of your relationship with the deceased. As a spouse, you can provide the marriage certificate, or as a child, you can provide your birth certificate. If you were divorced, you need to provide a copy of your divorce papers.

  3. Apply for benefits

    If you are already receiving benefits on the deceased spouse's or parent's record, your monthly benefits can be automatically adjusted. You can also request a special lump-sum payment, which may be paid automatically. If you are not already receiving benefits, visit your local office to apply for benefits, and bring the required documentation, which may also include the deceased's Social Security number and his most recent W-2 or tax return.

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