How to Apply for Social Security Survivor Benefits

Filed Under (Probate) on 09-12-2013

Apply for social security, social security rules, Whena spouse dies, social security benefits

If your loved one has passed away and you’re eligible, you should promptly apply for Social Security survivors benefits. Some programs start payment from the date of application rather than the date of death. You can apply by telephone (800-772-1213 from 7 am to 7 pm. Monday through Friday) or at any Social Security office. Even if you want or need to apply in person, start with a phone call so you can make an appointment and familiarize yourself with the information you will need to provide.

You will need:

1.    State certified death certificate for your loved one.

2.    The deceased’s Social Security number (this appears on Colorado death certificates).

3.    Your own Social Security number.

4.    A state certified copy of your own birth certificate.

5.    A state certified copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable.

6.    Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if any.

7.    The deceased’s most recent year’s W-2 form or federal self-employment tax return (these will be attached to the most recent income tax return he or she filed).

8.    Name and account number of a bank account where you want your benefits to be direct deposited.

If you were already receiving benefits as a wife or husband of a retired worker during your spouse’s lifetime, Social Security will convert your payments to widow(er)s payments. If you are receiving benefits based on your own work history, Social Security will determine if you could receive more in widow(er)’s benefits and will pay you whichever amount is higher. You cannot receive both kinds of benefits.

For more information Social Security benefits, check out “Life After Death: A Legal and Practical Guide for Surviving Spouses” by Marilyn McWilliams.

  • Jim Guiffre

    Thanks for the detailed list on required information before applying!