Who gets a lump sum from Social Security when someone dies?

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Q. My father passed away in October 2019 and I was told then that not all dependents get a lump some benefit from Social Security. Is this correct?
— Beneficiary

A. Condolences on your father’s passing.

Social Security does pay a one-time lump sum death benefit of $255.

But there are some contingencies, said Lisa McKnight, a certified financial planner with Peapack Private Wealth Management in New Providence.

Priority for the lump sum payment goes first to the surviving spouse if any of the following apply:

· The widow was living with the deceased at the time of death.

· She was living separately but collecting spousal benefits on the deceased’s earnings record.

· She was living separately but is eligible for survivor benefits based on the deceased’s earnings record.

If there is no surviving spouse, then the lump-sum payment can go to the deceased’s child or children if they are eligible for benefits on the deceased’s work record, McKnight said.

“The child must be unmarried and either a minor, an 18- or 19-year-old who is still in high school or an adult child who is disabled,” she said. “If there is no eligible spouse or child to collect it, the death benefit is not paid.”

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This story was originally published on Jan. 15, 2021.

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