Is There a Death Benefit for Families From the Government?

August 25, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

When a loved one passes, it can be emotionally and financially challenging. If the deceased was receiving social security benefits at the time of their death, a surviving spouse or child may be eligible for a one-time, lump sum death benefit upon the worker’s death. This quick guide will provide more information for you concerning this program.

What Is a Death Benefit

A Social Security Death Payment is a program that is funded and administered by the federal government through the U.S. Social Security Administration. Through this program, a spouse or child could receive a one-time death payment in the event of the passing of a spouse or parent that was receiving Social Security benefits.


There are some eligibility requirements for this program.

First, the surviving spouse must have still been living in the same household with their spouse at the time of their death.

If the spouse were living apart, they may still qualify, though. In order to qualify if you were living apart, you should meet one of the following criteria:

  • You were already receiving benefits on the worker’s social security record during the month in which they died
  • You became eligible for benefits upon their death

Children can also be eligible for this payment. If no spouse meets eligibility criteria, the payment can be made to the child or children. Children are eligible if they meet the following criteria:

  • They were already receiving benefits on the deceased worker’s Social Security record
  • They became eligible upon the parent’s death

Checking Eligibility

If you are unsure if you are eligible to receive the one-time, lump sum death benefit, you should contact your local Social Security office. They will be able to provide you with further information.

Online benefit eligibility tools are also helpful if you need more information. These online tools are simple to use. Once you have completed the information, you will be informed of any and all program for which you qualify.

Applying for the Death Benefit

An eligible spouse or child will need to apply for the death payment. It is important that you apply within two years of the date of death.

You may not be able to apply online.

Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivor’s benefits. For application information, you will need to call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number, or you will need to visit a local Social Security office in your area.

What Can The Benefit Be Used For?

The benefit upon the worker’s death can be used to help pay for final expenses, or it can be used in any way the recipient sees fit.

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