I was recently asked if you can keep (or do you have to return) a Social Security check for the month someone dies. Take a moment to lock in what you think. Then, let’s take a look at the answer straight from Social Security:
If A Beneficiary Dies
Let us know if a person receiving Social Security benefits dies. Benefits are not payable for the month of death. That means if the person died any time in July, for example, the check received in August (which is payment for July) must be returned. If direct deposit is used, also notify the financial institution of the death as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death.
So, if a family member dies, the benefits for that month (which may not be paid, until the next calendar month) have to be returned (along with all future benefits for the deceased). If you are not sure if the check is for the month before the person died, contact Social Security to clarify.
Note: the Colorado Bar has a very detailed “What to Do When Someone Dies” brochure on how to handle a death of a friend or family member. Of course, it is geared for Colorado. However, it provides a good overview.
Image provided by Joshua Earle.