Social Security Death Benefits
Are social security benefits pro-rated?

Q: My mother, a widow, died on November 29. Social Security has informed me that I must return her November benefit (paid in December) even though she was alive for almost the entire month. Why is this?

A: Social Security benefits are not pro-rated. To be entitled to a Social Security benefit check for a given month, the person must be alive the entire month. No benefit is payable for the month of death.

This provision has been in the law since 1939 and can be changed only if Congress amends the Social Security Act. None of the congressional committee reports accompanying the 1939 law explain why benefits are not payable for the month of death. Note, however, that a provision in the same law allows Social Security to pay survivors benefits for the entire month of death.

You can return the check to your local Social Security office. If the payment is made by direct deposit, the U.S. Treasury will automatically debit the bank account.

To submit a question for consideration in a future Q&A, email: CFTeditor@ChristianityToday.com.

This article first appeared in Church Finance Today, January 2011.

Log In For Full Access

Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.

Posted: January 3, 2011
View All
from our store
Planning the Pastor’s Retirement Package

Planning the Pastor’s Retirement Package

Use this guide to develop your pastor's retirement plan for all stages of life.
12 Law & Tax Guidelines for New Ministers

12 Law & Tax Guidelines for New Ministers

Essential knowledge to ensure legal and financial clarity and integrity in ministry.
20 Finance Questions Churches Ask

20 Finance Questions Churches Ask

Richard Hammar answers relevant tax and finance questions for church leaders.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Let ChurchSalary do the work. Get personalized compensation reports for staff and pastors.