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Social Security Benefits

The loss of a loved one be emotionally devastating. If you’re reliant on their income, the financial impact of their death can make a difficult situation even harder. Social Security Survivors benefits, though not available in every situation, can help to alleviate some of the financial strain.

When a person dies, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must be notified right away. Horan & McConaty will handle this step for you. However, you will need to reach out to the SSA directly to apply for survivors benefits if you are eligible.

Survivors Benefits Eligibility

Each year a person works, “credit” is earned toward Social Security benefits through payment of Social Security taxes. The younger a person is when they die, the fewer years of work history are necessary to receive Social Security Survivors Benefits, but no one is required to have worked more than 10 years.

If your loved one had sufficient work history, you may qualify for Survivors Benefits as long as you are:

  • A surviving spouse age 60 or older (age 50 if you’re disabled)
  • A surviving spouse of any age caring for the deceased’s child under age 16 or disabled
  • An unmarried child under age 18 (19 if enrolled full-time in primary or secondary school), or of any age who is currently disabled and became disabled before age 22
  • A parent age 62 or older who was financially dependent on the deceased
  • A surviving divorced spouse who had been married at least 10 years to the deceased and meet other eligibility requirements
  • A stepchild, grandchild or adopted child, under some circumstances

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Lump-Sum Death Payment

In addition to the monthly benefit, the SSA also offers a one-time lump-sum death payment (LSDP) of $255. Even if you do not qualify for monthly Survivors Benefits assistance due to your age, you can still collect the LSDP if you:

  • Are a surviving spouse who lived with the deceased at the time of death
  • Are a surviving spouse or child eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death

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Applying for Benefits

Horan & McConaty will notify the SSA of your loved one’s passing, but please be aware that benefits will vary for each individual. You must apply in order to start receiving survivors benefits.

  • Call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day at 1-800-772-1213.
  • The operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by phone.
  • To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • At other times and on weekends and holidays, you can leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, by the next business day.
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