Was Decedent Receiving Social Security Benefits?

If the answer to that question is "yes," a family member or other person responsible for the beneficiary's affairs should do the following:

  • Promptly notify Social Security of the beneficiary's death by calling Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. Note: Some funeral homes will automatically inform the Social Security Administration as part of the services they provide. Check with them prior to contacting the Social Security Administration.
  • If monthly benefits were being paid via direct deposit, notify the bank or other financial institution of the beneficiary's death. Request that any funds received for the month of death and later be returned to Social Security as soon as possible.
  • If benefits were being paid by check, do not cash any checks received for the month in which the beneficiary died or thereafter. Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible. You can return the check to your local Social Security office. Note: The Social Security Administration is eliminating paper checks as of March 1, 2013.

A lump sum may be payable to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the beneficiary at the time of death, OR if living apart, was receiving Social Security benefits on the beneficiary's earnings record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who was eligible for benefits on the beneficiary's earnings record in the month of death.