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Social Security Benefits

The experienced, knowledgeable staff of Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker is ready to assist families of the deceased in applying for Social Security benefits. It's important to apply for survivor benefits promptly because in some cases the benefits will be paid from the time you apply and not from the time of the deceased's death.

What determines eligibility?
Eligibility for Social Security depends on the deceased's age at time of death. The more the deceased paid into Social Security, the greater the benefits will be. However, no one needs more than 10 years of work history to be eligible for any Social Security benefit.

How does one apply for benefits?
Benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more the worker paid into Social Security, the greater the family benefits will be. To contact any Social Security office, visit www.socialsecurity.gov, or call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Information via automated phone service is available 24 hours a day.

What papers should one have ready when calling or visiting the Social Security office?

  • Proof of death—either from a funeral home or death certificate
  • Your Social Security number, as well as the deceased's
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate, if you are a widow or widower
  • Your divorce papers, if you are applying as a divorced widow or widower
  • Dependent children's Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates

Who may receive monthly benefits after the death?
Social Security uses the deceased's basic benefit amount and then calculates what percentage survivors are entitled to.

  • Widow or widower (60 or older, or 50 if disabled)
  • Widow or widower (any age) if caring for an entitled child under the age of 16 or disabled
  • A divorced widow or widower (60 or older, or 50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years (or caring for an entitled child who is under the age of 16 or disabled)
  • Unmarried children to age 18 (19 if attending school full time)

What percentage of the basic benefit amount are survivors entitled to?
The percentage depends on the survivors' ages and relationship to the deceased. The most typical situations are:

  • A widow or widower, at full retirement age or older, generally receives 100 percent of the deceased's basic benefit amount
  • A widow or widower, age 60 or older, but under full retirement age, receives about 71-99 percent of the deceased's basic benefit amount
  • A widow or widower, any age, with a child under age 16, receives 75 percent of the deceased's benefit amount
  • Children receive 75 percent of the deceased's benefit amount

How does the lump-sum death payment work?
A one-time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above and is paid to the deceased's spouse or minor children if they meet certain requirements.

Local Social Security Offices

For more information, contact these numbers.

Milwaukee (North)
Phone: 800-772-1213

Milwaukee (Greenfield)
Phone: 800-772-1213

Milwaukee (Mitchell Street)
Phone: 800-772-1213

Milwaukee (Downtown)
Phone: 800-772-1213

Milwaukee (West)
Phone: 800-772-1213

Oshkosh
Phone: 877-445-0834

Racine
Phone: 262-554-4089

Waukesha
Phone: 800-772-1213

West Bend
Phone: 888-655-0843

For additional Social Security benefits information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov

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237 N. Moreland Blvd. • Waukesha, WI 53188 • Phone: 262-542-6609 • Fax: 262-521-3823 • Email: info@cczfh.com