Listen First. Solve Second. Care Always.

What happens to someone’s Social Security when they die?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2023 | Probate |

You’ve been named the executor of someone’s estate, and you’re happy to serve. However, you didn’t realize just how many different things have to be handled.

This includes the deceased person’s Social Security benefits. What do the survivors and heirs get to keep — if anything? Here are some of the basics you (and the decedent’s heirs) need to know.

When do payments stop?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will stop the payments as soon as they are notified of the death. Typically, the funeral home will automatically handle the notification, but the executor of someone’s estate or their surviving spouse can also call the agency and make the report.

As the executor, however, you need to keep a sharp eye on the deceased’s bank account (or mail, in the unlikely event that the deceased received paper checks). They are due no Social Security benefits received in any month following the month of their death, so that money has to be returned to the agency. If it isn’t, you could be held responsible.

Is there a death benefit?

A lot of people erroneously believe that the SSA pays a “death” benefit any time someone dies to cover their funeral expenses. However, you definitely don’t want to rely on this benefit.

In reality, SSA will give some surviving spouses or a dependent child a lump-sum payment of $255 – which is not going to cover a funeral and burial at today’s costs. In the vast majority of cases, nobody qualifies to receive even that small amount.

Estate administration requires a lot of attention to detail, and it can feel overwhelming. Experienced legal guidance can help make sure that nothing gets overlooked.