Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit

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After your death, your family may be eligible to receive a one-time death benefit payment. In order to meet eligibility requirements, you must have contributed to the Social Security system for the requisite number of working quarters.

1 Social Security Payments

Not all U.S. workers pay into Social Security. For example, many teachers, firefighters, and police officers who contribute to a state retirement fund are prohibited from receiving Social Security death benefits. Check with the Social Security Administration to see if you are eligible.

2 Requisite Quarters

Check your yearly Social Security statement to see how many quarters you have paid into Social Security and whether these payments meet the requirements for death benefits.

3 Recipients

Only your spouse or your child (if you are divorced, separated or unmarried) can receive the one-time Social Security death benefit payment.

4 Lump Sum

Assuming you have met all the requirements, your family may receive a lump sum of $255 to help with funeral expenses upon your death.

5 Other Benefits

In addition to the lump-sum death benefit, your widow or widower, children, divorced spouse, or dependent parents may be eligible for ongoing death benefits from the Social Security Administration. Check online at

A freelance writer for more than 30 years, D.M. Gutierrez has had nonfiction, fiction and poetry published in women's, mystery, academic, children's, disability and teen print publications and websites including "Psychological Reports" and "Highlights for Children." She has an advanced degree in psychology from the University of California at Davis.