Social Security and Funeral Planning

Does Social Security Pay Anything Towards Funeral Expenses?

If your loved one has recently passed away, you may be wondering about Social Security benefits for a funeral. In general, Social Security doesn’t pay for cremation or funeral services, but it depends on the situation. You may be able to get a one-time lump sum death benefit — which you can use to help cover cremation, burial, or funeral costs and end-of-life expenses. As an alternative, some people are eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits.

How Much Is the Social Security Benefit?

The amount is $255. This will cover a small percentage of the funeral expenses. It can also help pay for things such as an obituary, which may be around $200-$400. 

Who Gets a Social Security Death Benefit?

The surviving spouse — who was living with the deceased — can collect the death benefit. Sometimes the funds may go to the surviving spouse if they didn’t live together. If there’s no eligible widow or widower, the benefit may go to the child or children.  

Conditions to Get the Death Benefit

To get a lump-sum death benefit, the survivor:

  • Must have been getting spousal benefits on the deceased’s earnings record, OR
  • Must have become eligible for survivor benefits on the deceased’s record.

If there’s no eligible spouse or child to obtain it, no death benefit is paid. And if the deceased was getting Social Security benefits before they passed away, the benefit must be refunded.

Do Survivors Need to Apply for the Death Benefit?

It depends. If the spouse or child was already getting family benefits on the deceased’s record, they will usually get the death benefit automatically — once somebody reports the death to Social Security. If not, survivors will need to apply within two years of the death. To apply, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213.

Note: The Social Security Administration temporarily closed local offices to the public in March — in response to the coronavirus threat. Social Security services are still available online and by phone.

You might need to provide the late worker’s birth and death certificates and (possibly) answer questions about the deceased’s family and financial status.

Related Post: Funeral Options During the Pandemic

Don’t Confuse it with Survivor Benefits

Remember, the death benefit is a one-time thing. This isn’t the same as survivor benefits — which are ongoing payments made to the surviving spouse, ex-spouse, disabled or minor children, or, in rare cases, the deceased person’s parents.

Related Post: What to Do Before Buying Final Expense Insurance

Looking to Cover Funeral Costs? We Can Help

Losing a loved one is hard. Final Expense Direct is here to help you through challenging times. With funerals costing around $8,000 or more these days, that settlement of $255 won’t get you very far. We offer final expense life insurance up to $30,000 — so you can help pay for burial AND other end-of-life costs. Continue browsing our website, or call 1-877-674-0236 for more information.     


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