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Social Security Benefit Information
You, a family member, or loved one may be entitled to Social Security benefits. It is important to start this process early—benefits are time-sensitive.
Our staff is a helpful resource in this matter and are trained to complete all the necessary funeral paperwork required by Social Security and by the VA National Cemetery.
How Social Security Helps Families
Social Security survivors’ benefits help ease the financial burden that follows a worker’s death. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits too.
Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning survivors’ benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivors’ benefits depends on the worker’s age at the time of death. It may be as little as 1.5 years for a young worker, and no worker needs more than 10 years of work.
Who Can Get Survivors Benefits?
The following family members can usually get Social Security benefits: widows and widowers age 60 or older; widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased’s child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled; divorced wives and husbands age 60 or older, if married to the deceased for 10 years or more; widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled; and unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren; grandchildren; adopted children; or high school full-time children over age 18, if they became disabled before age 22; or the deceased worker’s parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.
A Special One-Time Payment
In addition to the monthly Social Security benefits for family members, a one-time payment of $255 can be paid to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death. If there is no spouse it can be paid to a spouse who is eligible for benefits or a child or children eligible for benefits. This payment cannot be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.
How to Apply for Benefits
You can apply for Social Security benefits by telephone or by going to any Social Security office. You may need some of the documents shown in the Information Needed section below. Don’t delay your application because you don’t have all the information. If you don’t have a document you need, Social Security can help you get it.
Your Social Security number and the deceased worker’s Social Security number
The deceased’s death certificate
Proof of the deceased worker’s earnings for last year (W-2 forms or self-employment tax return)
Your birth certificate
A marriage certificate, if you are applying for benefits as a widow, widower, divorced wife, or divorced husband
A divorce decree, if you are applying for benefits as a divorced wife or husband
Children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children’s benefits
You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail them or bring them to the office. Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents.
How Can a Veteran be Buried in a National Cemetery?
The National Cemetery directors have the primary responsibility for verifying eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries.
A determination of eligibility is usually made in response to a request for burial in a VA national cemetery. VA Regional Offices will also assist in determining eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery. To confirm your eligibility for burial benefits, please call a veteran’s benefits counselor at (800) 827-1000.
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