Documentation, including proof of death and the Social Security number of the deceased, is needed to process the claim. In order to claim death benefits from Social Security, it is necessary to get in touch with Social Security either by phone, online or by visiting a local office. Death benefits must be applied for by the applicant through one of these options, according to the Social Security Administration.
When applying for survivor benefits, certain information is needed depending on the situation, states the SSA. It is necessary to present documentation such as proof of death, the applicant's Social Security number, the deceased family member's Social Security number, the applicant's birth certificate, the applicant's marriage certificate if he is a widower, proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if born outside the United States, divorce papers if applying as a surviving divorced spouse, dependent children's Social Security numbers and birth certificates, the deceased worker's most recent W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return, and the name of the applicant's bank and account number so benefits can be directly deposited into his account.
Before applying for survivors benefits, it is important whether or not an individual is receiving Social Security benefits currently, according to the SSA. If an individual is receiving benefits on his spouse's or parent's record, he should report the death to the SSA. If an individual is not receiving Social Security benefits, he should apply for survivor benefits soon after the death, as in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive.