In the United States, all deaths must be reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is something that most funeral homes do as part of their services to the bereaved; it is accomplished through the formal filing of SSA Form 721, Statement of Death by Funeral Director. Medical examiners, hospices and elderly living facilities may also offer a similar service, but it is generally the responsibility of survivors to notify the SSA directly.
Family members should gather some facts about the deceased before contacting the SSA. These facts, which are usually found on the death certificate, typically include:
Social Security number (SSN)
Date and time of death
The reports can be made via telephone by calling 800-772-1213. The hours of operation for this SSA function are from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday; the number for the speech and hearing impaired is 800-325-0778. Another option is to visit the local SSA office with a copy of the death certificate or a document that shows the SSN of the dearly departed.
The SSA recommends that deaths should be reported as soon as it is possible and convenient, This is very important for the surviving family members, who may be entitled to receive benefits. As of 2014, the immediate cash benefit paid to a surviving spouse or a child who receives SSA benefits is $225. Other survivors who may be entitled to this one-time, immediate benefit include parents and others who meet the eligibility of dependents.
It is important to remember that the SSA will demand the return of any payments made to the decedent on the month that he or she passed away. Once the death has been reported, eligible dependents may apply for survivors benefits. To accomplish this, the applicant must provide additional information such as birth or marriage certificates as well as W-2 or 1099 forms from the Internal Revenue Service.
If the decedent was receiving SSA benefit payments by means of direct deposit, the survivors should contact the bank for the purpose of returning the last month’s benefits. Most banks are familiar with this procedure and will take care of returning payments as soon as they are notified of the death, but it is a good idea to remind them to do so.