Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit

Regular Army: Retired

Benefit Fact Sheet



A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving Spouse of a deceased Service Member if he or she was 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.


Benefit Highlights:

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 questions listed below.

Documents you may need to provide

We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, 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.

Additional Information:

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:

Army Casualty:

Document Review Date: 13 May 2016