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Social Security Death Benefits – the Basics

The death of a loved one can be devastating both emotionally and financially. Social Security death benefits may be available to help with the financial burden. When a family member dies, certain members of your family may qualify for survivor benefits.

Social Security Death BenefitsEligible family members could include the widow, widower, minor children and in some cases, dependent parents.

Who Can Receive Social Security Death Benefits

• Spouse: If your spouse died, you may qualify for full benefits at your retirement age which can vary depending on when you were born. At age 60 you may receive reduced benefits.

• Disabled Spouse: In some cases a disabled spouse can begin receiving benefits at age 50.

• Divorced Spouse: If you were married at least 10 years and are now over the age of 60, and your ex-spouse dies, you may qualify for Social Security death benefits. If you remarried before you turned 60, you may be able to receive survivor benefits.

• Minor Children: If your children are under the age of 18 and unmarried, they may qualify for survivor benefits from Social Security. In addition, any stepchildren, adopted children, and grandchildren may qualify under specific circumstances. If you have a disabled child who became disabled before they reached the age of 22, they may also qualify for benefits from Social Security.

• Dependent Parent: In the case of a dependent parent, the Social Security Administration will require you to supply certain documentation explaining why you are disabled, or cannot work, and the reason you were dependent upon your family for support.

• Lump-Sum Payment

The Social Security Administration will pay out a lump sum in the amount of $255.00 to the surviving spouse upon the death of your loved one, providing they were living together at the time the family member died.

If they were living apart and the surviving spouse was receiving Social Security benefits from the deceased, they may qualify for this lump-sum payment as well.

How to File For Benefits

To file for Social Security Death Benefits you can either go to your local Social Security office or call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

Please note that the Social Security Administration will want — at the very least — a copy of the death certificate. In some cases, officials will also need your Social Security number, the Social Security number of the deceased, marriage certificate, and birth certificates of the deceased and any minor children who may be eligible to receive benefits.


Losing a loved one is never easy, but it’s important that you file for all the benefits due you and your family as soon as possible after losing your loved one. In some cases, the funeral director will take care of notifying Social Security for you. Having a qualified attorney help you through this process will take the burden off of you and your family during this difficult time in your life.

For nearly 25 years, Jon Ostroff has been representing the estates of over 100 children and adults who have died across Pennsylvania as a result of someone else’s negligence. Jon will spend the time and money it takes to figure out what happened to your loved one. If unable to recover money for your loved one’s estate, Jon will pay these costs.

Jon Ostroff’s ability to find the evidence that wins cases has earned him his distinguished reputation across Pennsylvania as a wrongful death attorney.

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