Thursday, March 17, 2011

Check for Deceased Beneficiary

Betty from Montana
If a person dies February 28 at 4:00 a.m. does the Social Security check received in February have to be returned to Social Security? I can understand returning the March check but not the February. Thank you.

ANSWER: You are right. The check received in February is actually payment for the month of January, because Social Security pays in arrears (this does not apply to SSI checks which are paid for the current month). So if the person dies in February the check received in that month is for January and is payable to the surviving spouse with whom the decedent was living at the time of death, or who was entitled as a spouse on that account. If there is no such spouse, then SS will pay to certain relatives (children/parents/widow) according to a priority system. I describe that system in my Social Security Benefits Handbook in Section 1408.

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