a) A one-time survivor benefit of $255 (surviving spouse or children), which can be automatically processed;
b) Continuation of benefits – Payments should be automatically be changed to survivor benefits;
a) A one-time survivor benefit of $255 (surviving spouse or children), which must be applied for within 2 years of death and is NOT retroactive to DOD(*);
b) New survivor benefits – You need to submit an application to the local SSA office
Social Security payments are:
· Subject to automatic reclaim. Monthly benefits that are direct-deposited to a decedent’s bank account will be automatically reclaimed if the Treasury Department determines the decedent was ineligible for the benefit. (Direct deposit is required for all SSA applicants after March 1, 2013, and for anyone receiving benefits as of that date. Direct Express card is another payment option)
Mom died July 15, 2016. Social security payment was deposited August 2, 2016. Mom did not live for the full month of July, so the payment will be auto-reclaimed. (If by chance you’ve acted quickly enough to close the account and withdraw the funds prior to the Treasury reclaiming the benefit, you cannot keep the money; Mom was not entitled to the benefit and the government will absolutely want it back. You will need to reimburse the government via check sent to your local Social Security office. )
120-day Rule: It’s possible that the bank itself properly contested the reclaim. SSA has 120 days to submit a request for reclaim from the date it receives notification of date of death and sends a “death notification entry”. While this is the rule, it’s best to double-check with the bank directly to confirm that is the case – it could be that the bank simply hasn’t responded to the request and is sitting on money that should be returned.
Written by Elizabeth C. Ketterson, Esq. Elizabeth is a Senior Associate at the Law Office of Kevin A. Pollock LLC and helps to run the Estate and Probate Administration Department at the firm.