Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit
Benefit Fact Sheet
A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving Spouse of a deceased Service member if they were living with the deceased, or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased Service member's record. If there is no surviving Spouse, the payment is made to Children who are eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death. If no Spouse or Child meeting these requirements exists, the lump-sum death payment will not be paid.
The deceased Service member must have been either fully insured or currently insured under the Social Security system. Generally, the benefit is paid only to eligible survivors who were already receiving or are eligible to receive immediate monthly benefits derived from the earnings record of the deceased. Former Spouses are not eligible for this benefit. The benefit may not be paid directly to a funeral home. Military duty status at time of death is not a factor in determining eligibility.
Only one beneficiary may receive the Lump Sum Death Benefit. If more than one beneficiary is eligible, such as in the case of multiple eligible Children, the Children would split the $255 lump sum. The current amount of $255 has not changed since its inception and is not indexed for inflation. Application is made by calling 1-800-772-1213. (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or by visiting your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to apply.
You can help by being ready to:
Provide any needed documents; and
Answer the list of required questions.
Documents you may need to provide
You may be asked to provide documents to prove eligibility, such as:
A birth certificate or other proof of birth
Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States (More Info)
U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968
W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year; and
A death certificate for the deceased Service member.
Important: Photocopies of W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns are accepted, but only the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate are accepted. All documents will be returned to you.
Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. The Social Security Office will help you get them.
For more information, please visit the Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit webpage maintained by the Social Security Administration:
For information required when applying for the Lump-Sum Death Benefit:
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations