Alert
Close

Take AARP’s Smart Driver course and you could save money on your car insurance. Learn more

AARP Bulletin

Social Security Mailbox

Who Is Eligible to Receive the Social Security Death Benefit?

The $255 could go to a surviving spouse or child

En español | Q. I know Social Security pays a $255 death benefit to the family of a person who dies. Who exactly is eligible to receive this? And how do you apply?

A. The death benefit is a lump sum, paid upon the death of a person who worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. It goes to a surviving spouse who was living in the person's household at the time of death, or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased's record.

See also: Social Security survivor benefits.

If there's no eligible spouse, the $255 may go to a child who is eligible for benefits on the person's record in the month of death. No qualifying recipient means no payment — it cannot, for example, go to the funeral home. To apply, call 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office.

Also of interest: Top 25 Social Security questions. >>

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman sitting on sofa using laptop
membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

Mujer en la parte de afuera de so negocio

Free quotes for members from the AARP® Small Business Insurance Program.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Explore Your Learning Possiblities