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Social Security and VA BenefitsSocial Security Benefits

$255 Lump Sum Death Benefbe insured under Social Security.  This payment can be made to: 

The surviving spouse, if living with the deceased or, if living apart was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased person's record, or...

If there is no surviving spouse, a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased person's record on the month of death. 

If there isn't a spouse or child meeting these requirements, then the lump-sum benefit is not paid.  The lump sum benefit cannot be paid to a funeral home, cemetery, or estate.

After you have completed the arrangements with us, we complete and fax form SSA-721, "Statement of Death by Funeral Director," directly to Social Security as well as entering the information into Missouri's electronic death registration system.  This system electronically notifies SSA of the death.  Generally, this is sufficient so you do not have to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to Social Security.

Click here for the Lump Sum Death Benefit information page from Social Security.

Survivors Benefits

Social Security survivors benefits help ease the financial burden that follows a worker's death. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits, too.  Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivors benefits depends on the worker's age at the time of death. It may be as little as 1-1/2 years for a young worker. No one needs more than 10 years.

Here is a list of family members who usually can get benefits:

• Widows and widowers age 60 or older.
• Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased's child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled.
• Divorced wives and husbands age 60 or older, if married to the deceased 10 years or more.
• Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
• Children up to age 18.
• Children age 18 - 19, if they attend elementary school or high school full time.
• Children over age 18, if they became disabled before age 22.
• The deceased worker's parents age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.

Applying for Benefits

If you're already getting benefits as a wife or husband on your spouse's record when he or she dies, in many situations Social Security can change your payments to survivors benefits once you report the death to them. Benefits for any children will also automatically be changed to survivors benefits after the death is reported to Social Security.

This publication from Social Security may be helpful.

For More Information

For more information, write or visit any Social Security office, or phone the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a representative weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also visit Social Security's Internet website:

Here are two Social Security Offices in our area:

Social Security Administration
650 Gravois Bluffs Blvd.
Fenton, MO 63026    
Google Map
Mon.-Fri. 9am - 4 pm

Social Security Administration

1215 Fern Ridge Parkway #100
Creve Coeur, MO 63141
Google Map
Mon.-Fri. 9am - 4 pm

  ***********************************************************************************************************************************************Caring for Seniors with Autism
Image credit: balouriarajesh / Pixabay

When we hear about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we often think about small children and the challenges they will need to face throughout their lives, but most often than not we forget that these children will grow up and turn into young adults and then seniors.

Although autism can’t be cured, there are many approaches that you, as a caregiver - whether you are a beloved family member or a paid professional - can make to facilitate the life of an elderly that has been diagnosed with ASD.

Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed at any stage in life, however, when it is rather later than earlier, it can be a little more challenging - but not impossible - to adjust. If diagnosed at a later stage in life, usually, a series of changes in the daily routine and care needs to be made.

If the diagnosis was made in the early years, this is something that you will be more accustomed to and dealing with a senior with Autism could be a little less changeling for the family.

We must all agree that one of the most important aspects of our existence is having a good quality of life, and so, with that in mind, here are some great tips on how to take care of seniors with ASD.

Image credit: 422737 / Pixabay
Keeping a daily routine

In general, individuals with ASD need a healthy daily routine. These simple everyday tasks will be extremely powerful as they will reinforce a feeling of happiness, stability and overall well-being. When these feelings are surfaced and experienced, it will be much easier for them to accept and handle other changes when needed.

A great proactive plan is to sit down and make a morning schedule or a to-do list with the ASD senior. The routine must be straightforward and easy to follow. Some examples can include healthy meal times, short walks - if possible, an art class, medication at a specific time of the day, attending a support group, quality family time.

Also, keep in mind that a hygiene routine should be included. Reminding the senior with ASD of the good points of their appearance can be a good way of encouraging healthy hygiene habits.

A safe environment for everyone

It is imperative to ensure that the environment is prepared according to the difficulties of each individual.

For example, if the elderly person has difficulty moving around, it is essential to avoid slippery rugs, floors and cluttered spaces. Another idea is to install bars around so they can walk freely when needed.

Sociability is a must

To improve the individual's quality of life diagnosed with Autism, a key element is social interaction.

Whenever possible, seniors should attend a support group. Support groups can be a great place for them to identify with other people that face the same everyday challenges.

Always go slow and see how they feel - they don’t like being pushed too hard into doing something they are not 100% comfortable with and sure about. A good idea is to start nice and easy, with an easy topic and then add someone else into the conversation.

Since social interaction can be harder for seniors with ASD, support groups could be added to the routine.

Family support can be life-changing

To ensure good self-esteem and results in individuals with autism in older stages in life, it is important to have a good, caring and healthy family environment.

Although it is not always easy to deal with elderly and autistic patients, the family is one of the most important roles in this process.

Be kind to their sensitivities

People with autism are far more sensible as their senses are sharper than normal. Music and general noises will sound louder in their ears, lights can appear much brighter for them and smells can feel stronger.

With this in mind, try to find out which one of these senses can be a trigger and work towards minimizing it. A lower TV and radio can be more accommodating while dimming the light or using side lamps can do the trick for avoiding distractions and stress.

Watch out for the non-spoken language

Autism affects the way people communicate, especially seniors, so you will need to be extra sensitive when it comes to understanding what they need and figure out what is going on with them.

Simple questions such as “How are you feeling?” should be avoided and replaced with more specific questions such as “Are you happy/sad today?” “Are you feeling leg cramps or stiff joints?” Specific questions are more prompted to result in clear replies.

Some ASD seniors may panic one day when they realize that they have lost their hearing or can no longer see, so all eyes should be on them to understand the unspoken words of what is happening.


Consider Making These Plans After a Terminal Diagnosis

Coping with a terminal illness can be stressful and frustrating, whether you’re dealing with it personally or are trying to help a loved one who has just been diagnosed. There are lots of arrangements to make and considerations to think about, and the process can be overwhelming. However, it can also be helpful to start making plans for the coming months, because it allows you to feel a sense of control over things. Valhalla Funeral Chapel has lots of resources for this very reason, including a checklist of all the things you might need to pre-plan a service. When you’re ready to think about making arrangements, here are a few ideas on where to begin.

Consider accessibility needs

If you or your loved one will need changes to the home for accessibility or upgrades for the sake of comfort, you might want to think about refinancing your mortgage in order to free up some cash. There are several options available, including a cash-out refinance that allows you to obtain a new loan with a higher balance so you can keep the amount between it and your old loan. You will more than likely be able to get a better rate with this type of refinancing, and there are tax advantages as well. While these numbers will vary depending on the type of loan you have, you can check to see what the best cash out refinance rates are at the moment and begin planning ahead.

Figure out the financials

Living with a terminal illness can be costly even outside of making changes to the home. Some treatments and medications aren’t covered by insurance and can easily rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills, so it’s a good idea to think about how you or your loved one can keep up with those bills and reduce them, if possible. Talk to your doctors about your concerns, since this will allow them to create a treatment plan with cost in mind. Look online for resources that can help with funding, and don’t forget to look into payment plans and budgeting ideas for other bills in order to free up funds.

Prepare for the family

While it’s important to think about how to pay bills during this time, it’s also crucial to consider long-term finances and planning. Will you be leaving an endowment to family members? Do you already have a living will or advance directive written out that includes your wishes for final arrangements? It can be difficult to create these types of documents, but doing so will give you peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of and that your wishes will be carried out. This can be a challenging part of the process for your mental health, so you’ll want to have a support system to lean on during this time, whether it’s from friends and family members or from an online resource.

Make arrangements for care

Many individuals who are diagnosed with a terminal illness spend quite a bit of time preparing for others, so it’s important not to forget about arrangements for yourself or your loved one. There may come a day when it becomes difficult or impossible to remain comfortably at home, so hospice care might be necessary. Talk to the caregivers about the benefits of palliative care, which involves making comfort a priority in order to provide some quality of life.

While it’s understandably difficult to think about making these kinds of plans, doing so can help to reduce stress during an uncertain time. Look for support and resources online to help you and your loved ones as you navigate the emotional, physical, and financial challenges that come with making final arrangements.

Contact Valhalla Funeral Chapel today to find out more about their services or to start making arrangements for yourself or a loved one.