How to Report a Death to Social Security

By Beverly Bird - Updated June 19, 2017
Woman with serious expression making a phone call

Notifying the Social Security Administration when a loved one dies is one of those things you should see to quickly. There’s no penalty for not reporting immediately, but if the deceased was collecting benefits and if he receives a payment after the date of death, his estate must return the money to the government. If you are a survivor entitled to benefits, you will want to start this process sooner rather than later.

Ask the Funeral Director to Contact the SSA

The easiest way to report a death to the Social Security Administration is to ask the funeral director to take care of it for you. Just give him your loved one’s Social Security number. He can only report the death, however. If survivors are entitled to benefits, they must take further steps on their own.

Call the Social Security Administration Yourself

You can report a death or apply for survivors benefits by calling the SSA’s toll-free number, 800-772-1213, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also visit or call the nearest Social Security office. You can’t take care of this online. At the very least, a surviving spouse is entitled to a one-time payment of $255 as of 2014, and may be eligible for ongoing benefits as well, depending on your circumstances.

About the Author

Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.

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