Social Security

Lump Sum Death Benefit

A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse of a deceased Sailor if he or she was living with the deceased, or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased Sailor’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 Sailor 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. Application is made by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Additional Information:

For additional information, please visit the Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit Web page.

Survivor Benefits

When a Sailor who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, certain members of the family may be eligible for monthly benefits.


Generally, the Sailor must be either fully insured (up to 10 years of work credit is needed to be eligible for benefits, depending on the person’s age) or, currently insured (earned at least six work credits in the preceding 13 calendar quarters). Under a special rule, if a Sailor worked for only 1½ years in the three years before the death, including civilian covered wages, benefits can be paid to minor children and/or the spouse who is caring for the children. Former spouses may qualify for survivor benefits if certain conditions are met.