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Who Can Claim Death Benefits and How to Claim Death Benefits After the Loss of a Loved One

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

Money is usually the last thing that someone grieving over the loss of a loved one wants to think about, but many people are often put in that situation. Death comes with expenses, and most people haven’t taken the time to prepare for them.  Even a modest funeral and burial can cost many thousands of dollars. If the deceased was also the breadwinner, the family may need immediate access to funds from the estate just to pay the bills.

There are a few ways for grieving families to get immediate access to the funds they need.  Below you will find an explanation of who can claim death benefits after the loss of a loved one and how to access them in the fastest and most efficient manner.

Life Insurance or Annuities

Funds from a life insurance policy or annuity can be collected quickly, since they are required to have a beneficiary named. It is important to note that the owner of the insurance policy can name anyone they like as beneficiary and this is one reason why I always remind people to check their beneficiary designations on a regular basis. The last thing a family needs is to learn that the deceased forgot to change the beneficiary and all the funds are going to an ex-spouse! To access the benefits from an insurance policy or annuity, the company will usually require a death certificate to start the process of distributing funds. Each company tends to provide the forms the beneficiary needs to fill out.

Social Security Benefits

Social Security Benefits including death and monthly survivor benefits, can also be claimed after the death of a loved one and will go to a surviving spouse or dependent children. These benefits are fairly easy to obtain, but there are some eligibility requirements. It’s also important to claim survivor benefits immediately, because they are not retroactive if claimed after a certain amount of time passes. If the deceased was a veteran, there may also be benefits available for his or her spouse.

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