En español | Not in the long term — you can't keep a deceased person's retirement benefits flowing to an estate.
But if a beneficiary dies before receiving a payment that is already due, Social Security can make that one payment to a family member or a legal representative of the estate. The recipient is determined in the following order — if no one matches the first criteria, the payment goes to the second, and so on:
- A spouse who was living with the deceased at the time of death or who, for the month of death, was drawing a spousal benefit on the record of the deceased.
- Children who, for the month of death, were entitled to a monthly benefit on the deceased's record.
- Parents who, for the month of death, were entitled to a benefit on the same record as the deceased beneficiary.
- A surviving spouse who does not qualify under number 1 above.
- Children who do not qualify under number 2.
- Parents who do not qualify under number 3.
- The legal representative of the deceased person's estate.
Keep in mind
- Social Security payments are for the previous month's benefit and are paid only if the recipient is alive for the full month. For example, if a beneficiary dies in December 2021, Social Security can make the November payment to a relative or the estate, but there will be no payment for December even if the beneficiary died on the final day of the month.
Published June 14, 2021