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Social Security Benefits

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Some of the deceased's family members may be able to receive Social Security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough under Social Security to quality for benefits.  You should get in touch with Social Security as soon as you can to make sure the family receives all of the benefits to which it may be entitled.  Please read the following information carefully to learn what benefits may be available.

A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased's record.  If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death.

How To Apply

You can apply for benefits by telephone or by going to any Social Security office.  You may need some of the documents shown on the list below. But 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. 

Certain family members may be eligible to receive monthly benefits, including:

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled);
  • A surviving spouse at any age who is caring for the deceased's child under age 16 or disabled;
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is younger than age 18 (or age 18 or 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22;
  • Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and
  • A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.

Information Needed
  • 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 the 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 office. Social Security will make
photocopies and return your documents.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If you are 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.
For more information, write or visit any Social Security office, or phone the toll-
free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a representative on weekdays at 7 a.m.
to 7 p.m.
A Reminder
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks which arrive
after death will need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social
Security checks were being directly deposited into a bank account, the bank
needs to be notified of the death, too.
Form SSA-721 (9-91)
Local Social Security Office Location
1370 Lockland Ave
Winston Salem, North Carolina 27103
Social Security Office Phone Number
1-877-402-0828 or TTY: 1-336-722-8411
Social Security Office Hours
Monday 9:00am - 4:00pm
Tuesday 9:00am - 4:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am - 12:00pm
Thursday 9:00am - 4:00pm
Friday 9:00am - 4:00pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
Except On Federal Holidays

The Social Security website is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Security's programs. There are a number of things you can do online.

In addition to using the Social Security website, you can call them toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.  Staff can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.  They can also provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.  If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call the TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.

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