What is a lump-sum death benefit and how can it help your family?
If you have Social Security and you have a spouse that you are living with, your spouse will be able to receive a lump-sum death payment when you die. This lump-sum death amount is $255. If you are not living with your spouse during the time of death, this payment can be made to the spouse they are currently living with or if there is a child involved and they are eligible. This payment can be used to cover any expenses that are associated with the death of the spouse.
What Is a Lump Sum Death Payment?
A lump-sum death benefit was originally linked to expenses for the burial and any other funeral expenses. This can be called the funeral benefit. During the beginning of the program, these benefits would be paid to an employee who passed away, which made it easier for family members who wouldn’t be able to receive these benefits. Once a survivor benefit program was added to Social Security, the lump-sum was for those who didn’t pay for survivor benefits or any type of insurance with Social Security. Today, the eligibility for these benefits have now been covered so that you no longer have to use this payment for burial costs. This is unfortunate to those families that do want to use this toward funeral costs because the payment has decreased due to its value and inflation.
How to Be Eligible
The main requirement is that you have to be a spouse to the person that passed away as well as living with them during the time of death. If you aren’t a spouse to that person, then the payment will be made to their child if you have one together and they are eligible to receive monthly Social Security payments. If there is no surviving spouse or child, then there is no lump-sum death payment to be made. If there is more than one child involved, the lump-sum will be distributed evenly amongst the children. Your spouse or child must apply for the lump-sum death payment within two years of your death.
What Information Is Needed To Apply
When you apply for the lump-sum death payment, here are some documents you want to make sure that you have:
● Birth certificate
● Document to prove that you are a U.S. citizen or proof of being a lawful alien
● Discharge papers if you were in the U.S. military
● Tax returns or W-2 forms
● Death certificate of your spouse
Here is additionally information that may also be required to provide:
● Yours and your deceased spouse’s Social Security numbers
● Information to show that the deceased spouse has filed for Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, or Social Security benefits.
● Documents saying that deceased spouse was unable to work due to an illness or condition that they passed away from
● If they deceased spouse was ever previously in the military
● If they deceased spouse has ever worked for the railroad industry
● If they deceased spouse was ever previously married and the dates of those marriages as well as their names and Social Security number
● If there are any children under the age of 18 that belonged to the deceased spouse
● The deceased spouse’s earning during the year of death as well as previous years
● If the deceased spouse was financially supporting their parent and depended on their income
During this hard time, it is best to consult with a disability lawyer so they can answer any questions or concerns you have. They will help you with your claim as well as receiving the lump-sum death benefit and any other Social Security benefits you need to file. A lawyer can be there to guide your through any applications, help you gather medical documents and appeal any denials if that is something you come across.