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Reporting the Death of a Medicare Beneficiary: Social Security Death Notification

Tamera Jackson by Tamera Jackson | Licensed since 2007
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This article was updated on: 11/09/2017

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When someone dies there are many arrangements to make, including letting Social Security know to terminate the deceased person’s benefits. The Social Security death notification should be made as soon as possible after the person’s death. In most cases, the funeral home will report the Medicare beneficiary’s death to Social Security. If you want them to do that, you will need to give the deceased’s Social Security number to the funeral director so he or she can make the report.

Reporting a death to Social Security

To report the death of a Medicare beneficiary, a family member or person responsible for the care of the beneficiary may call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You must have the beneficiary’s Social Security number available when you make this call. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM in all time zones. At this time, you cannot report a death or apply for survivor benefits online.

Reporting a death to the bank and receiving survivor benefits

You will also need to call the beneficiary’s bank if Medicare benefits were automatically deposited into the recipient’s account each month. If the deceased beneficiary received benefits by check, checks should not be cashed and should be returned to Social Security.

Medicare will give the surviving spouse $255 if he or she resided with the beneficiary when the recipient passed away. If the surviving spouse was not living with the beneficiary at the time of death, he or she has to have been receiving Social Security benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earnings record to qualify for the payment. In the event that no surviving spouse exists, the money goes to a qualifying child, if one exists.

Returning Social Security payouts

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. For example, if the person dies in July, you must return the benefit paid in August.

What happens if I don’t make a Social Security death notification?

Often Social Security will be aware of a death due to the report of a funeral home or state agency. You can confirm that the Social Security death notification has been made and that the deceased person’s Social Security benefits stop. If you unlawfully collect a deceased person’s Social Security benefits you can be convicted of fraud, according to the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration. Deceased payee fraud can result in criminal convictions as well as prison time, community service, and fines.

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