When and How to Report a Death to Social Security

Updated April 24, 2022
woman on phone with social security

When someone passes away, their death will need to be reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This should be done as soon as possible after an individual dies. Find out who is usually responsible for this task and how to go about taking care of it.

Who Reports a Death to Social Security?

In most circumstances, the funeral home that is handling the burial or cremation will notify the SSA that the individual has died by submitting Form SSA-721 to the agency. This is usually included in the package of services provided to the grieving family by the funeral home. However, the family should not assume this is being done without verifying that the funeral home is handling this important notification task.

  • If the funeral home does not handle SSA notification, then a surviving family member or a representative (such as an attorney, physician, or accountant) of the deceased individual will need to notify the SSA that the individual has died.
  • Death reports may also be made by third parties, such as a social service agency representative or a friend, though such reports are verified by the SSA before terminating any social security benefits the individual had been receiving.

How to Report a Death to SSA

There is no online option for reporting a death to SSA, nor do individuals who handle reporting need to submit a specific form. Instead, death notifications must be made by phone. In order to notify the SSA that a person has died, a surviving family member of the deceased individual, their representative, or a third party will need to call the agency at 800-772-1213 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

When to Report a Death to Social Security

The sooner an individual's death is reported to SSA following their passing, the better. Do not wait for the death certificate to notify SSA. That document will need to be submitted after it comes in, but the initial report of death needs to be made right away.

  • Prompt reporting is particularly important if the individual was receiving social security benefits prior to their death, as it can help prevent payments from being made that the family will have to return.
  • Timely reporting also helps expedite payment of the death benefit and paves the way for survivor's benefits to be processed once eligible individuals have applied to receive those benefits.

Information Needed to Report a Death to SSA

When you contact the SSA to report a death, you will be required to identify yourself and to provide some important information about the deceased individual. Be prepared to provide:

  • Your relationship to the deceased (spouse, child, sibling, attorney, friend, caregiver, etc.) and contact information
  • The deceased person's name, Social Security number, date of birth, date of death, and time of death

Understanding the SSA Death Reporting Process

Reporting a death to the Social Security Administration is not difficult, but it is one of many tasks that have to be completed after a loved one passes away. When you or another family member goes to the funeral home to make final arrangements for your loved one who has died, be sure to ask if the services include notifying SSA of the person's death. The answer to that inquiry will let you know if you can consider this task handled, or if you need to add it to the to-do list of the many duties that must be completed after a loved one dies.

When and How to Report a Death to Social Security