Social Security Benefits

Get the benefits you deserve.

Social Security death benefits can be confusing to understand.

At Evan W. Smith Funeral Services, our commitment of service to you includes the submission of the proper forms to the Social Security Administration. We will submit a ‘Statement of Death by Funeral Director,’ form SSA-721, directly to the Social Security Administration to assist your family in the time of loss. While some families prefer to contact the Social Security Administration on their own, this can be a time-consuming and aggravating process. To assist you in fully understanding the benefits to which your family may be entitled, we’ve compiled the following information, which was supplied by the Social Security Administration. We hope you find it helpful.

What are Survivors Benefits?

Social Security Survivors Benefits help ease the financial burden that follows the death of a family member. Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay Survivors Benefits depends on the decedent’s age at the time of passing. It may be as little as 1.5 years for a young worker, to as much as ten years for an older individual. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits, too.

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Who can receive Survivors Benefits?

Here is a list of family members who are usually eligible for 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 ten years or more.
  • Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
  • Children up to age 18.
  • Children age 18-19, if they attend elementary school or high school full time.
  • Children over age 18, if they became disabled before age 22.
  • The deceased worker’s parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.

What is the one-time death benefit payment?

In addition to the monthly 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 child or children eligible for benefits. This payment cannot be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.

How should you apply for benefits?

You can apply for benefits by telephone or by going to any Social Security office. You will need to bring the applicable documents noted on the list below:

  • Your Social Security number and the deceased worker’s Social Security number.
  • A death certificate. (Generally, the funeral director provides a statement that can be used for this purpose.)
  • 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.
  • Your checking or savings account information if you want direct deposit of your benefits.

You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to the Social Security office. Upon reviewing the documents, their staff will make copies and return your originals to you.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

If you are age 65 or older, disabled, or blind, ask the Social Security representative about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks for people with limited income and resources. If you receive SSI, you may also qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, and other social services.

Do you need more information?

While our knowledgeable funeral staff can help you with most general questions, you may need to direct specific inquires directly to the Social Security Administration. For more information, write or visit any Social Security office, or phone the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available weekdays from 7 AM to 7 PM EST. The Social Security website is also a valuable source for more information.

Whether you need to plan a funeral for a death that has occurred or are seeking to preplan arrangements, our staff is always available to assist you. Please contact us anytime.

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In our blog, we share resources and information that families in our community can use to cope with their loss or better understand their grief. We also write about the ways we have been involved in the community. Check out our latest posts.


Evan W. Smith Funeral Service - Wilmington
Phone: (302) 377-6906
201 N. Union St., Wilmington, DE 19805

Evan W. Smith Funeral Service - Dover
Phone: (302) 526-4662
518 S. Bay Rd., Dover, DE 19901

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