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Social Security column: Families should notify Social Security of death

Q: If the funeral home notifies Social Security of a death, should the family contact SSA too?

A: Yes. Funeral homes are very helpful in notifying Social Security of deaths but the family should definitely call the SSA toll-free number, 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778), or their local office to report a death. This helps make sure that family members receive all benefits to which they may be entitled.

Q: I understand that Social Security does not prorate benefits for the month a person dies. Why not?

A: Social Security benefits are not payable for the month in which a beneficiary dies whether the person dies on the first or the last day of the month. This has been in the law since 1939 but the legislative history does not state why. Related to your question is that survivor benefits are payable for the month of death. For example, while a person receiving SSA benefits based on their own earnings would not be due benefits for the month of death, a family member eligible for monthly benefits on the deceased's record would get a survivor benefit for the entire month of the death.

Did you know? There is often no need to drive to or call your local SSA office.

Much SSA business can be done online from home. Save a trip and go to

Using SSA benefit retirement planners, applying for retirement or disability benefits, requesting a replacement Medicare card or a benefit verification letter, even changing your address or direct deposit if currently receiving benefits, can be done online.

Many of these services can be fully completed online. Some require you to also mail in documents and information. Some actions require that you establish a PIN and password, some do not.

Many SSA online services are available as automated phone services as well through 800-772-1213. For information, visit or call 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) or your local office.