After an individual reaches the age of retirement, Social Security benefits kick in to provide financial support for the remainder of the person’s life. In addition to the monthly benefit payments, there is an additional form of financial compensation that is provided to family members in the case that the individual receiving the benefits passes away. This is known as a death benefit, and the Social Security Administration provides it as long as certain requirements are met.
What are Death Benefits?
Death benefits are lump-sum payments provided by the Social Security Administration following the death of retirees that are receiving Social Security benefits. A death benefit payment is a one-time transaction of $255, and this amount is payable to the family members of the deceased.
There are a few important requirements that must be met in order for these payments to be received by the surviving spouse. Payment can be received by the spouse if they were living in the same house as the worker when they passed away. Additionally, the spouse can receive the death benefit if they have already been receiving benefits from the worker’s record or if they became eligible for benefits following their passing.
If there is no surviving spouse, the death benefit of retirees may be received by their children. In order for a child or multiple children to obtain this payment, they must have already been receiving benefits on their parent’s behalf or they must have become eligible for benefits following their death.
If family benefits are already being received on behalf of the worker, the lump-sum amount should be paid out automatically to the same beneficiary when proof of the death is received by the Social Security Administration. If there is no one listed as a beneficiary to the policy, a qualifying spouse or child must apply for the death benefit within two years of the worker’s death. If no application is received, the death benefit will go unpaid and will expire.
How to Apply to Receive Survivor’s Benefits
The small lump-sum amount of the death benefit is not an overly significant amount of money in the long term. If you were previously dependent on the benefits of the individual that passed away for financial support, survivor benefits can help to provide more long-term financial stability after the loved one’s death.
In order for family members to be eligible for these benefits, the worker must have worked long enough to accumulate a certain number of Social Security credits. The specific number of credits required vary based on the number of years worked and the age of death.
For spouses to qualify for these benefits, they must have been married for nine months prior to the death or have a child with the worker. Additionally, spouses may qualify if the death occurred due to an accident or during military duty.
These benefits often do not kick in until the age of 60 unless there is a child being cared for who is under the age of 16. If there is a young child, the survivor benefits will continue until the child reaches the age of 16. However, at this point, the benefits will stop unless the spouse has reached the age of 60 when they will qualify for the benefits once again.