Social Security Disability Death Benefits

by Terri Deno ; Updated July 27, 2017

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government organization that has been providing Americans with assistance during retirement and disabilities since 1935. Those who collect Social Security payments are often supporting families. When the beneficiary dies, the SSA has procedures in place to determine who can collect the death benefit and if any survivors are eligible for continuing Social Security payments.

Function

The Social Security Death Benefit is a one-time payment provided to the surviving spouse or children of a deceased person who had been drawing Social Security payments due to disability or retirement. The payment can be put toward funeral expenses, outstanding bills or any other financial need the survivors may have after the death.

The availability of this benefit is subject to the eligibility of the survivors.

Size

The one-time Social Security Death Benefit is $255. This payment is payable a surviving spouse that lived with the beneficiary at the time of death. If there is no surviving spouse, children of the beneficiary may also qualify for the payment.

The death benefit is paid in addition to any Social Security benefits that a spouse or minor child will continue to receive after the death of the beneficiary.

Application Process

The application process for death benefits can begin with a phone call or a visit to the nearest Social Security Administration office. You will need to provide information about the deceased including their name, date of birth and social security number. You will also need to provide information on where and when they worked, whether they have ever served in the military or railroad and if they have previously filed for benefits. If they had previously filed for benefits, the interviewer will need to know whether it was due to retirement or disability.

Additional information you will need to provide to the SSA office are the names and birth dates of the surviving spouse, minor children or disabled children in the beneficiary's care at the time of death. To qualify for the benefit payment, you will also need to provide your birth certificate (or proof of birth) and W-2 forms to see if you are eligible to collect the payment.

Misconceptions

The Social Security Death Benefit does not affect any payments that survivor will continue to receive after the death of the beneficiary. The death benefit is an additional payment that only occurs once. As long as survivors promptly report the death to the SSA and file an application to continue Social Security payments, the survivor will be able to get 70 percent to 100 percent of the monthly payments, depending on their eligibility and whether the beneficiary was collecting due to a disability or retirement.

Warning

Collecting a death benefit or continuing payments may be a long process, but this is to avoid anyone trying to deceive the Social Security Administration. The application process for death benefits asks for a range of personal identifying information to verify the surviving family members qualify for these benefits. Social Security fraud is punishable by law and can bring a prison sentence of up to five years. To avoid being accused of fraud, do not make false statements or hide information during the death benefit application process.

About the Author

Terri Deno is a freelance writer living near Indianapolis. She holds a B.A. in English from Ball State University. She has a passion for research; this passion is the driving force for writing about antiques, literature, genealogy, shopping and travel.