When your loved one passes away, you may be overwhelmed by all of the different things that you must manage. One of the responsibilities that you might have is to notify the Social Security Administration immediately. Some people have the mistaken belief that money that the SSA continues to send can be spent on things such as the burial costs, the funeral, and the deceased people’s debts. If you spend checks that continue to arrive for your deceased loved one, the government can take legal action against you and can demand that you repay the money. At Elder Care Direction, we can help you to understand your responsibilities when your loved one dies so that you can avoid making costly mistakes.
Contacts that you need to make
After your loved one dies, you need to contact the SSA. You can call the agency at 1.800.772.1213. If you are hard of hearing, you can use the TTY line at 1.800.325.0778. Inform the SSA that your loved one has died, and ask for his or her benefits checks to stop. You should also contact your deceased loved one’s bank and ask that it returns any money that it receives from the SSA starting at the beginning of the next month. You will need to get a certified copy of your loved one’s death certificate to do this. You should keep your loved one’s account open for a minimum of two months, making certain that any deposits from the SSA or checks are returned.
How the SSA treats benefits
If you are the spouse or child of someone who dies, you can apply for a lump-sum death benefit. This benefit is $255 and is not automatic. Benefits payments from the SSA are meant for the prior month’s expenses instead of the current month. The payments are not given on a pro-rata basis. If your loved one did not live for the entire previous month, you will need to return the check that is sent for the next one. For example, if your loved one dies on Jan. 28, you will still need to return the check that is sent for him or her on Feb. 1 even though he or she incurred living expenses for 28 days of the prior month.
In addition to the death benefit, you might be eligible for survivor’s benefits from the SSA after your loved one’s death. The following family members might be able to receive monthly survivors’ benefits:
- Disabled children of the deceased
- Children who are ages 18 or 19
- Widows and widowers aged 60 or older
- Widows and widowers of any age if they are caring for children under age 16 or serving as caregivers for disabled children of the deceased
- Widows and widowers ages 50 and older who are disabled
- Stepchildren, adopted children, grandchildren, or step-grandchildren
- Certain surviving ex-spouses
- Parents who are ages 62 and older who received half or more of their support from their deceased children
Contact Elder Law Direction
Figuring out what you need to do after your loved one passes away can be overwhelming. The compassionate professionals at Elder Care Direction can help you to figure out the steps that you need to take after your loved one has died. To learn more, call us today to schedule an appointment.