How do you apply for Social Security death benefits?


Quick Answer

Individuals looking to apply for Social Security death benefits should contact the Social Security Administration by phone or at their local Social Security office, says the Social Security Administration. An appointment is not required, but having one saves time waiting to speak to a representative.

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Full Answer

Individuals who want to apply for survivors benefits cannot do so online, nor can they report a death online, explains the Social Security Administration. Social Security should be notified as soon as possible after a person dies, but in most cases, the funeral home in charge of the arrangements reports the death. Individuals who would like the death reported by the funeral home should provide the deceased's Social Security number.

If individuals are receiving benefits on their spouse's or parent's record, they may not need to file an application for benefits, but instead Social Security automatically changes the benefits they receive after Social Security receives the report of death. The lump-sum payments may be paid automatically. If an individual is receiving disability or retirement benefits on his own record, he needs to apply for survivor benefits, says the Social Security Administration. Social Security checks to see whether the applicant can receive a higher benefit as a widower or widow.

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