How much does a Social Security death benefit pay out?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability compensation to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability or medical condition. If you are financially dependent on a deceased employee, you have specific alternatives for ensuring that you receive the money you relied on for medical bills and day-to-day living expenditures.

Payment in Full in the Event of Death

The Social Security Administration offers a lump-sum death benefit of $255. This benefit is provided to the spouse of a deceased worker who shared the worker’s household at the time of their death. It may also be given to the spouse if they were not cohabiting during the month of the worker’s death and met one of the following requirements:

They had already benefited from the worker.
They became entitled for survivor benefits upon the death of the worker.

If the surviving spouse is ineligible for the lump sum under these circumstances, or if there is no surviving spouse, the money may be granted to the worker’s children who met one of the following criteria during the month of the worker’s death:

They had already benefited from the worker.
They became entitled for benefits upon the death of the worker.
To be eligible for the lump sum death benefit, the worker’s eligible spouse or child must apply within two years of the worker’s death.


If a deceased worker was eligible for disability benefits but never applied, a family member may file a fresh claim on their behalf and get back benefits payments. Depending on whether the deceased worker contacted the Social Security Administration prior to their death, there are specific time limits for applying for back payments:

  • If the deceased worker inquired about disability benefits with the Social Security Administration, the family member has six months, or sometimes more, to file a claim on their behalf.
  • If the deceased worker does not contact the Social Security Administration, a family member has three months from the worker’s death to file a claim.

Disability benefits will be granted for a “closed period,” defined as the time period from the commencement of the worker’s disability and their death.

Benefits to Survivors

If the deceased worker’s spouse, child, or a dependant divorced spouse or parent was financially dependent on the worker, they may be eligible for survivor benefits. These benefits are applied for under the survivor’s name, not the deceased worker’s. To apply, you must first ensure that you meet the eligibility standards for the worker’s relationship and then contact the Social Security Administration.

Obtaining Assistance with Benefits

Consider engaging a disability benefits attorney or advocate to assist you with your claim, whether it is for a lump sum death benefit payment, back payments on a disability benefits claim, or survivor’s benefits. A lawyer can assist you in completing your application, assembling required documentation, and appealing your claim if it is denied.