Losing a loved one is traumatic experience for survivors. For many who experience the death of a family member because of a wrongful death, knowing what steps to take next can be confusing or overwhelming. Those who have lost a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly may be able to collect Social Security death benefits.
What are Social Security death benefits?
Social Security death benefits, or Social Security survivor benefits, are benefits paid to the family members of the deceased. The benefits are paid monthly, and the amount of benefits that a person receives is dependent upon the amount of earnings that deceased paid into Social Security before death.
The maximum family amount is usually set between 150 and 180 percent of the basic benefit rate. As a note, the spouse of a deceased worker who was insured by Social Security is also entitled to a lump-sum death benefit payment of $255.
Qualifying for Social Security Survivor Benefits
Not all family members will qualify for Social Security survivor benefits, and there are many situations where your family may not qualify if your loved one has died.
Those who are able to recover Social Security death benefits are listed below.
- Widows and widowers of full retirement age
- Widows and widowers between 60 and full retirement age
- Disabled widows and widowers
- A minor child
- Dependent parents of the deceased
- Divorced spouses (in some cases, a divorced spouse may be able to collect benefits if certain criteria are met)
If you are a person who meets one of the descriptions above, your eligibility for benefits may change depending upon whether or not you remarry, if you are eligible for retirement benefits on your own, or if you receive a pension.
How to Apply for Death Benefits
The application for death benefits cannot be completed online. You may call the Social Security Administration or visit one of their local offices. At the time of application, you will have to supply the Social Security Administration with relevant applicant information, including proof of death of the deceased. If you are already receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration, you will have to provide this information as well.
Other Recovery Options
If your loved on has died because of the actions of another person, the other recovery option you have is to file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages. During a wrongful death suit, you will have to prove that the person responsible for your family member’s death acted negligently, and that this negligence was the direct cause of death.
If you can prove a wrongful death case, then you may be able to recover damages for the following.
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of services
- Loss of companionship
Filing a wrongful death suit for damages is something that no one likes to think about, but it can be an effective way to reclaim the amount of money that you need to cover losses and costs.
Call Gacovino, Lake & Associates for Help with Your Claim
Seek legal counsel if you have questions about what you should do following the death of your loved one, and whether or not you should file a wrongful death suit for damages or apply for death benefits through the Social Security Administration.
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., our team can provide you with a free case consultation, and answer any and all questions that you have about your recovery options. When you’re ready, call us today at 800-550-0000 or use the form on our contact page to set up your free consultation.