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Social Security Benefit Information

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 ½ years for a young worker. No one needs more than 10 years.

Who Can Get Survivors Benefits?

Here is a list of family members who usually can get 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 10 years or more. Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.Children up to age 18. 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, or adopted children. 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.

A Special One -Time 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 none, it can be paid to: A spouse who is eligible for benefits. 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 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. 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.

Information Needed

Your Social Security number and the deceased worker's Social Security number. A 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.


​(800)  772-1213

Veteran Benefit Information

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes a partial reimbursement of eligible veterans’ burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is service-related, the reimbursement is generally described as two payments:

(1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and

(2) a plot interment allowance. You may be entitled to a Va burial allowance if:

You paid for a veteran’s burial or funeral and
You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran’s employer and
The veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable

in addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

The veteran died because of a service-related disability or
The veteran was getting VA pension or compensation at the time of death or
The veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay or
The veteran died in a Va hospital or while in a nursing home under Va contract.

Service-related death

The VA will pay an allowance toward burial and funeral expenses, and a plot interment allowance.

If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under contracted nursing care, the cost of moving the deceased may be reimbursed.

Non-service related death  

The VA will pay an allowance toward burial expenses.

The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker to mark the unmarked grave of an eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world.  Flat bronze, granite or marble markers and upright granite and marble headstones are available.
The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial.

The cemetery must certify that the type chosen is permitted on the grave of the deceased.
Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

Most veterans are eligible for a burial flag. reservists entitled to retired pay are also eligible to receive a burial flag.

To facilitate receiving veteran benefits for which you may be eligible, you will need the following when you contact the Veterans administration office:

Proof of the veteran’s military service (DD 214)
Service serial number
Marriage License (if applicable)
Children’s Birth Certificate (if applicable)
Certified Copy of the Death Certificate


(800) 827-1000