When someone you are related to dies, you are often entitled to a Social Security lump sum death benefit of $255. Let’s look at who is eligible and how you can obtain your funds for burial and funeral planning.

Social Security $255 Lump Sum Death Benefit

It is not a lot, but when a U.S. Citizen dies, then the Social Security Administration will provide their next of kin with a lump sum death benefit of $255. This is a one-time payment (meaning it is not reoccurring).

Who is Eligible

If the person who dies is a U.S. citizen eligible for Social Security, then their next of kin will receive the lump sum benefit. Usually, this means the surviving spouse.

In general, eligibility for Social Security in the United States means that a person worked long enough in jobs that were paying into the Social Security program to be entitled to benefits when they reach a certain age. The person who dies must be considered “eligible” under the SSA’s rules in order for their kin to receive any of these benefits.

Who is eligible to claim the lump sum death benefit:

  • The surviving spouse – living with the deceased.
  • According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), “If living apart and eligible for certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record, the surviving spouse may still be able to get this one-time payment.”
  • Or, if there is no spouse, the SSA can pass on the money to a child on record.

How do I claim the $255 social security death benefit?

There are several ways to confirm eligibility and to get your death benefit.

  • First, if you are working with a funeral home, the funeral director can report the death to Social Security for you.

Otherwise, if you need to contact Social Security yourself, you can reach them in the following ways:

  • If you don’t have the internet or are not comfortable using the SSA website, a phone number is available at
    • 1-800-772-1213
    • TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, for the deaf or hard of hearing.

Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit Form

Here is the link to the SSA’s form to fill out to receive your lump sum death benefit:

What is the lump sum death benefit for social security?

This article addressed the question of how do i claim the $255 social security death benefit. It is a one time death payment from social security and not the same as a monthly social security benefit often used by the surviving spouse.

Who is entitled to death benefits in social security?

Besides the one time social security death benefit amount of $255, there are other benefits for surviving spouses. To qualify for monthly death benefits from social security, the deceased must first be eligible for the social security program as mentioned above.

According to the SSA, the people entitled to MONTHLY benefits are:

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 widow or widower any age caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled;
— An unmarried child of the deceased who is: Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they’re a full-time student in an elementary or secondary
school); or Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22;
— A stepchild, grandchild, step grandchild, or adopted child under certain circumstances;
— 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.

You will need to start at the SSA.gov website to begin your process of confirming eligibility for monthly benefits. Here is a good list of publications with helpful information.

Other Options for End of Life Expenses

Average Funeral Costs for planning and budgeting

If you are thinking now, $255 is not a lot of money! You are right. Hopefully, your loved one had other life insurance – such as final expense insurance (aka burial or funeral insurance).

If they did not, you might have to get creative with how you deal with your end of life costs. Our article, Average Cost of a Funeral, looks at low cost options for funerals and burials. That is a good place to start.

Furthermore, this process may make you consider your own funeral planning and budgeting. Depending on where you are in life, you will have options on what insurance will be necessary for your end of life costs.


In summary, getting your $255 survivors social security lumpsum death benefit should be pretty easy. However, as with most government agencies, these processes do take a little bit of time. Consequently, the SSA advises starting the process as soon as possible. This will deliver a prompt payment.

We wish you the best on your journey and offer you the following articles to help make your planning easier:

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