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Social Security and VA Benefits

Social Security Benefits

$255 Lump Sum Death Benefit

A one-time benefit of $255 is payable upon the death of a person who has worked long enough to be 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: www.socialsecurity.gov.

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


Veterans Benefits

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY KNOW THE LOCATION OF YOUR MILITARY SEPARATION DOCUMENTS (USUALLY REFERRED TO AS A DD214).  IF YOU HAVE MISPLACED YOURS, REQUEST A REPLACEMENT FROM THE VETERAN'S ADMINISTRATION THROUGH THIS VA WEBPAGE.  NOT HAVING THIS DOCUMENT IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE CAN CAUSE A DELAY OF SEVERAL DAYS WHEN SCHEDULING A BURIAL AT A NATIONAL CEMETERY.

Benefits accorded to honorably discharged United States Armed Services veterans who have served our country for the required period of time include:

United States Flag to drape the casket, or be displayed with the casket.  Information here

Burial in a National Cemetery, such as Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.  Spouses and dependent children are also eligible.
Concrete grave liner for casket burial in a National Cemetery.
Military Honors, including bugler for Taps, and flag folding ceremony.  A gun salute and pallbearers may be also be available.  Military Honors in this area are provided through the Missouri Military Honors program.
Veteran's headstone or grave marker, in a National Cemetery or a private cemetery as long as the grave is unmarked.  The VA page about headstones and markers is here.
Presidential Memorial Certificate.  Click here for information about this VA program.

Additional benefits may be available if the death was a service connected death or if the death occurs in a Veterans Administration facility (eg:  hospital or nursing home).  Visit this page for specific information about determining eligibility for VA benefits.

Your funeral director will ask you to provide the discharge/separation documents for the veteran (see a sample of the DD214 discharge document here).  We will arrange for the flag for your family, as well as scheduling the burial at a National Cemetery. 


IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO MAKE ANY SCHEDULE PLANS BEFORE YOUR FUNERAL DIRECTOR SCHEDULES THE BURIAL AT THE CEMETERY, AS THEIR SCHEDULE IS BUSY AND GENERALLY INFLEXIBLE.