Gift of Love Memorial Planning Guide
One of the most thoughtful ways you can express your love is through making arrangements in advance. This gives your family the advantage of knowing your specific wishes, so they can avoid hasty decisions and financial problems at a time of bereavement.
Complete Your Memorial Preferences
A MESSAGE FROM SOCIAL SECURITY
Your funeral director is helping the Social Security office by giving you this information about Social Security benefits. If the deceased was receiving benefits, you need to contact us to report the death. If you think you may be eligible for survivor benefits, you should contact us and apply.
WHO CAN GET SURVIVOR BENEFITS?
- Widows and widowers, age 60 or older.
- Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased’s child(ren) who are under age 16 or disabled.
- Divorced wives and husbands, age 60 or older, if married to the deceased for 10 years or more.
- Widows, widowers, divorced wives, and divorced husbands, age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
- Children up to age 18.
- Children age 18-19 if they are full-time students.
- Children over age 18, if they became disabled before age 22.
- The deceased worker’s parents, age 62 or older, if they were being supported by the worker.
A SPECIAL ONE-TIME PAYMENT
In addition to the monthly benefits for family members, a one-time payment of $255 can be paid to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death. If there is none, it can be paid to the following:
- A spouse who is eligible for benefits.
- A child or children who are eligible for benefits.
HOW TO APPLY FOR BENEFITS
You can apply for benefits by telephone, by going to any Social Security office, or by calling the number below.
- Your Social Security number and the deceased worker’s Social Security number.
- A death certificate. (Generally the funeral director provides a statement that can be used for this purpose.)
- Proof of the deceased worker’s earnings for the last year. (W-2 forms or self-employment tax return.)
- Your birth certificate.
- A marriage certificate, if you are applying as a widow, widower, divorced wife, or divorced husband.
- Children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children’s benefits.
- Your checking or savings account information, if you want direct deposit of your benefits.
You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to the office. Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents.
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, checks which arrive after death will need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social Security checks were being directly deposited into a bank account, the bank needs to be notified of the death too.
Social Security Administration Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-772-1213 • Website: www.ssa.gov
VETERAN’S BURIAL ALLOWANCE
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes a partial reimbursement of eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service-related, the reimbursement is generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance and (2) a plot interment allowance. You may be entitled to a VA burial allowance if:
- You paid for a veteran’s burial or funeral AND
- You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some source, such as the deceased veteran’s employer AND
- The veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
- In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
- The veteran died because of a service-related disability OR
- The veteran was getting VA pension or compensation at the time of death OR
- The veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation but declined not to reduce his / her military retirement or disability pay OR
- The veteran died in a VA hospital or while in a nursing home under VA contract.
Service-related death: The VA pays an allowance toward burial expenses.
Non-service related death: The VA will pay an allowance toward burial and funeral expenses and a plot interment allowance. If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under contracted nursing care, the cost of moving the deceased may be reimbursed.
HEADSTONES AND MARKERS
- The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker to mark the unmarked grave of an eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world.
- Flat bronze, granite, or marble markers and upright granite headstones are available. The style choice must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial.
- Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment or cremated remains.
Most veterans are eligible for a burial flag. Reservists entitled to retirement pay are also eligible to receive a burial flag. To facilitate receiving veterans benefits for which you may be eligible, you will need the following when you contact the Veterans Administration Office:
- Proof of the Veteran’s Military Service (DD214)
- Service Serial Number
- Certified Copy of the Death Certificate
- Marriage License (if applicable)
- Children’s Birth Certificates (if applicable)
VA Benefits Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-827-1000 • Website: www.cem.va.gov