Social Security Benefits


The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 ½ to 10 years depending on his or her age at death.

Who May Receive Monthly Benefits

  • A widow/widower – full benefits at full retirement age (currently age 67), or reduced benefits as early as age 60
  • A disabled widow/widower – as early as age 50
  • A widow/widower at any age if he or she takes card of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits.
  • A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Sometimes benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children
  • Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled
  • Dependent parents at 62 or older

Lump-Sum Death Payment

one-time Lump-Sum Death Payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment is paid in the following order:

  • A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.
  • 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

You can report the death to a service representative by calling 1-800-772-1213. The operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone. Be sure to have your Social Security number handy. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, please call 1-800-325-0778. For more information, you may visit Social Security Online at

Social Security Teleservice – Doing Business By Telephone

Social Security offers a toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day number, 1-800-772-1213. To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on regular business days. On weekends, holidays and other times, you may leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, the next business day.