Social Security in the month of death – is that payment due?

Q:  Are Social Security benefits payable for the month of a person’s death?

A:  Social Security benefits are payable to a person only if he or she is alive for the complete month. This applies whether the person was receiving SSA retirement, survivors or disability benefits based on either their own earnings or the record of someone else. 

To illustrate this, if a person receiving Social Security benefits dies during February, even on the last day of the month, no benefit is payable to that person for February. No partial payments are made for a month – either you are eligible for benefits that month or you are not.  

Social Security benefits for a month are received the following month. Using the above example, SSA benefits received by this person in February were for the month of January and payable because he or she was alive all through January. However, the SSA benefit received by this person in March is for the month of February. It must be returned because he or she was not alive for the complete month of February.  

In contrast, Social Security survivors benefits are payable for the month of death. Continuing the example of the person dying in February, anyone eligible for survivors monthly benefits on the record of the deceased, such as a widow, widower or children, would receive benefits for all of February, the month of death, again even if the death occurred on the last day of the month.  

Prevent the possible loss of benefits by always contacting Social Security when there is a death in the family. You can call the Social Security national toll-free number, 800-772-1213, (7:00am-7:00pm local time), TTY 800-325-0778, same national hours, or your local office. Local hours vary, especially for small offices, but are usually 9:00am-3:30pm.  

With several exceptions, Social Security payment dates are based on the number holder’s (NH) date of birth. You are the NH if receiving Social Security on your own work record. If receiving based on the work of someone else, that person is the NH so survivors benefits payment dates are based on the birthdate of the deceased. Payment date will be one of four days throughout the month: on the third of the month and on the second, third and fourth Wednesdays of the month. See the 2012 calendar of Social Security payment dates here 

In Minnesota, approximately 93,172 people received monthly Social Security survivors benefits as of December 2010. Of this number, 25,831 were children.  In that month, approximately $98,131,000 in Social Security survivors benefits was paid to Minnesota residents.  

In North Dakota, approximately 17,062 people received monthly Social Security survivors benefits as of December 2010. Of this number, 3,998 were children. In that month, approximately $16,889,000 in Social Security survivors benefits was paid to North Dakota residents.

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