Social Security Benefits
The following information is provided to help smooth the process of applying for
Social Security benefits.
A deceased worker must have Social Security credit of between 1 1/2 and 10 years.
The exact time period required for eligibility depends on the deceased's age at
his or her time of death.
Who May Receive Monthly Benefits
A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if
caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or is disabled. A divorced widow
or widower is also entitled to benefits if the marriage lasted at least 10 years,
or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or is disabled.
Unmarried children up to 18, or up to 19 if they are attending either primary
or secondary school full time.
Children who were disabled before reaching the age of 22, and who remain disabled.
Dependent parents who are 62 or older.
Lump-Sum Death Benefits
A $255 one-time payment is paid in addition to the monthly benefits.
The lump-sum payment is paid to the person with the highest priority from the following list:
- A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased
- A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death
- A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death
Applying for Benefits
Benefits are not paid automatically, you must apply to receive benefits. You may
apply at any Social Security office, or you may apply by telephone toll free at
(800) 772-1213. The operator will schedule a time when a local Social Security
office will take your claim over the telephone.
Social Security Telephone Service
The social security telephone operators are available on regular business days between
7:00 AM and 7:00 PM. The toll free number is (800) 772-1213.
You may call any time, 365 days per year and 24 hours per day and leave a message.
In most cases the Social Security Administration will return your call the next day.