REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES
VA will pay a burial allowance up to $1,500 if the veteran's death is service-connected. In some instances, VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expense may claim reimbursement from VA.
VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at the time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a nursing home under VA contact or a state nursing home. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be paid. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.
VA will pay a $150 plot allowance when a veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. government jurisdiction under the following circumstances: the veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been except for receiving military retired pay; or the veteran died in a VA facility. The $150 plot allowance may be paid to the state if a veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed. For information on monetary benefits, call 1-800-827-1000.
Requesting a Burial in a VA Cemetery
No special forms are required when requesting burial in a VA national cemetery. The person making burial arrangements should contact the national cemetery in which burial is desired at the time of need. Scheduling can be done seven days a week for interments on Mondays through Fridays.
If possible, the following information concerning the deceased should be provided when the cemetery is first contacted:
o Full name and military rank;
o Branch of service; o Social security number;
o Service number; o VA claim number, if applicable;
o Date and place of birth; o Date and place of death;
o Date of retirement or last separation from active duty; and,
o Copy of any military separation documents, such as the Department of Defense Form 214 (DD-214).
The discharge documents must specify active military duty and show that release from active duty was under other than dishonorable conditions.
Viewing facilities are not available and funeral services cannot be held at VA national cemeteries, but a final committal service may be performed. For safety reasons, these committal services are held in committal shelters located away from the gravesite. Burial will take place following the committal service.Floral arrangements may accompany the casket or urn from the committal shelter and will be placed on the grave after burial
. A headstone or marker will be ordered by cemetery personnel upon inscription approval by the next of kin and a burial flag will be provided. Upright headstones are standard in most national cemeteries, however, some have both upright headstone and flat marker sections. Be sure to discuss these options with the cemetery director prior to burial.
The same procedures are followed if the veteran's eligible spouse or dependent predeceases the veteran. In most cases, one gravesite is provided for the burial of all eligible family members and a single headstone or marker is provided.
When both spouses are veterans, two gravesites and two headstones or markers may be provided if requested.
Military honors are not provided by the national cemetery. These honors must be arranged in advance by the family or their representative with groups that provide the honors.
Burial benefits available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) National Cemetery Administration include a gravesite in any of our cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a grave liner for casketed remains at no cost to the family.
Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
To confirm your eligibility for burial benefits, please call a Veteran's Benefits Counselor at: 1-800-827-1000
Persons Eligible for Burial in a VA National Cemetery
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemetery directors have the primary responsibility for verifying eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries. A determination of eligibility is usually made in response to a request for burial in a VA national cemetery. a. Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard)
(1) Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies on active duty.
(2) Any citizen of the United States who, during any war in which the United States has been or may hereafter be engaged, served in the Armed Forces of any Government allied with the United States during that war, whose last active service terminated honorably by death or otherwise, and who was a citizen of the United States at the time of entry into such service and at the time of death.
(3) Any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. With certain exceptions, service beginning after September 7, 1980, as an enlisted person, and service after October 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 months or the full period for which the person was called to active duty. Undesirable, bad conduct, and any other type of discharge other than honorable may or may not qualify the individual for veterans benefits, depending upon a determination made by a VA Regional Office. Cases presenting multiple discharges of varying character are also referred for adjudication to a VA Regional Office.
b. Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers' Training Corps
(1) Reservists and National Guard members with 20 years qualifying service, who are entitled to retired pay or would be entitled, if at least 60 years of age, under Chapter 67, title 10, United States Code. Specific categories of individuals eligible for retired pay are delineated in section 1332 of Chapter 67, title 10, United States Code.
(2) Members of reserve components who die under honorable conditions while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while performing active duty for training or inactive duty training, or undergoing such hospitalization or treatment.
(3) Members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps of the Army, Navy, or Air Force who die under honorable conditions while attending an authorized training camp or on an authorized cruise, while performing authorized travel to or from that camp or cruise, or while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while engaged in one of those activities.
(4) Members of reserve components who, during a period of active duty for training, were disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty or, during a period of inactive duty training, were disabled or died from an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty.
c. Commissioned Officers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(1) A Commissioned Officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (formerly titled the Coast and Geodetic Survey and the Environmental Science Services Administration) with full-time duty on or after July 29, 1945.
(2) A Commissioned Officer who served before July 29, 1945, and;
(a) Was assigned to an area of immediate hazard described in the Act of December 3, 1942 (56 Stat. 1038; 33 U.S.C. § 855a), as amended;
(b) Served in the Philippine Islands on December 7, 1941; or,
(c) Transferred to the Department of the Army or the Department of the Navy under the provisions of the Act of May 22, 1917 (40 Stat. 87; 33 U.S.C. § 855).
d. Public Health Service
(1) A Commissioned Officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service who served on full-time duty on or after July 29, 1945. If the service of the particular Public Health Service Officer falls within the meaning of active duty for training, as defined in section 101(22), title 38, United States Code, he or she must have been disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
(2) A Commissioned Officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service who performed full-time duty prior to July 29, 1945:
(a) In time of war;
(b) On detail for duty with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard; or,
(c) While the Service was part of the military forces of the United States pursuant to Executive Order of the President.
(3) A Commissioned Officer serving on inactive duty training as defined in section 101(23), title 38, United States Code, whose death resulted from an injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
e. World War II Merchant Mariners
(1) United States Merchant Mariners with oceangoing service during the period of armed conflict, December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946. A DD-214 documenting this service may be obtained by submitting an application to Commandant (G-MVP-6), United States Coast Guard, 2100 2nd Street, SW, Washington, DC 20593.
(2) United States Merchant Mariners who served on blockships in support of Operation Mulberry during World War II. f. Spouses and Dependents
(1) The spouse or remarried surviving spouse of an eligible person, even if that person is not buried or memorialized in a national cemetery, is eligible for interment in a national cemetery. In addition, the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States lost or buried at sea or officially determined to be permanently absent in a status of missing or missing in action or whose remains have been donated to science or cremated and the ashes scattered.
(2) The surviving spouse of an eligible decedent who remarries an ineligible individual and whose remarriage is void, terminated by the ineligible individual's death, or dissolved by annulment or divorce is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. The surviving spouse of an eligible decedent who remarries an eligible person retains his or her eligibility for burial in a national cemetery.
(3) The minor children of an eligible person. For purpose of burial in a national cemetery, a minor child is a person who is unmarried and:
(a) Who is under the age of 21 years; or,
(b) Who is under 23 years of age and pursuing a course of instruction at an approved educational institution.
(4) An unmarried adult child of an eligible person if the child became permanently incapable of self-support before attaining the age of 21 years because of a physical or mental disability.
Such other persons or classes of persons as designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (38 U.S.C. § 2402(6)) or the Secretary of the Air Force (Public Law 95-202, § 401).
Persons NOT Eligible for Burial in a VA National Cemetery
a. Remarried Surviving Spouses Married to a Non-veteran A surviving spouse of an eligible decedent who marries an ineligible individual and predeceases that individual.
b. Former Spouses A former spouse of an eligible individual whose marriage to that individual has been terminated by annulment or divorce, if not otherwise eligible.
c. Other Family Members Family members of an eligible person except those defined as eligible in Section III, paragraph f.
d. Disqualifying Characters of Discharge A person whose only separation from the Armed Forces was under dishonorable conditions or whose character of service results in a bar to veterans benefits.
e. Discharge from Draft A person who was ordered to report to an induction station, but was not actually inducted into military service.
f. Subversive Activities Any person convicted of subversive activities after September 1, 1959, shall have no right from and after the date of commission of such offense, based on periods of active military service commencing before the date of the commission of such offense. Eligibility will be reinstated if a pardon is granted by the President of the United States.
g. Active or Inactive Duty for Training A person whose only service is active duty for training or inactive duty training in the National Guard or Reserve Component, unless the individual meets the eligibility criteria listed in Section III.1.b of this information sheet.
h. Other Groups Members of groups whose service has been determined by the Secretary of the Air Force under the provisions of Public Law 95-202 as not warranting entitlement to benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. A person convicted of any Federal Capital crime or any State capital crime involving the death of one or more persons, is denied burial or memorialization in a national cemetery. (Public Law 105-116, Nov. 1, 1997)
Burial Flag Information
Only one burial flag may be provided per veteran. Most veterans are eligible for a burial flag. Reservist entitled to retired pay are also eligible to receive a burial flag. W
hen burial is in a national, state or post cemetery a burial flag will be provided. When burial is in a private cemetery, burial flags may be obtained from VA regional offices, national cemeteries and most U.S. post offices by completing VA Form 2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes, and submitting it with a copy of the veteran's discharge papers at any of these locations.
VA cannot provide flag holders for placement on private headstones or markers. These flag holders may be purchased from private manufacturing companies.
For Burial in a VA National Cemetery
Gravesites in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance; however, reservations made prior to 1973 will be honored. Families are encouraged to prepare in advance by discussing cemetery options, collecting the veteran's military information including discharge papers, and by contacting the cemetery where burial is desired.
For Burial in a Private Cemetery
We suggest that if burial will be in a private cemetery and a Government headstone or marker will be requested for the veteran's grave, that the family complete VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans' Cemetery, in advance and place it with the veterans military discharge papers for use at the time of need.
You may want to ask the following questions when preparing for burial in a private cemetery:
o When responding to an offer of a "free" gravesite for veterans, ask if there is a requirement to purchase an additional gravesite.
o If an additional gravesite is required, where will it be located and what the cost is?
o What type of trust fund does the cemetery have to protect buyers?
o Ask if there are restrictions on the type of headstone or marker that can be used to mark the grave.
o Does the cemetery require a special marker base to be purchased prior to ordering a free government marker for a veteran's grave?
o Is there an additional cost for the placement, setting or care of a free government headstone or marker? Is it more than if a private headstone or marker is purchased?
o Is an outside container (usually called a "vault" or "grave liner") required and how much does it cost?
o Know what you are receiving and what is required by the company and have them put it in writing prior to burial.
We suggest that if burial will be in a private cemetery and a Government headstone or marker will be requested for the veteran's grave, that the family complete VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans' Cemetery, in advance and place it with the veteran's military discharge papers for use at the time of need.
Only an eligible veteran may receive a Government-provided headstone or marker for placement in a private cemetery. Veteran's spouses and dependent children are not eligible.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker to mark the unmarked grave of an eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. By law, Government markers are not provided to be used as foot stones and should not be used to double-mark a veteran's grave. VA relies on the integrity of the applicant to request a Government-provided headstone or marker only if the grave is not, or will not be, marked with a private headstone or marker.
Headstones and markers are provided for eligible spouses and dependents of veterans only when buried in a national, military post/base, or State veterans cemetery. Spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery are not eligible for a Government-provided headstone or marker. Flat bronze, granite or marble markers and upright granite and marble headstones are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.
Any deceased veteran eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery is also eligible for a Government-provided headstone or marker. Persons with 20-years service in the National Guard or Reserves who are entitled to retired pay subsequent to October 27, 1992, are also eligible for a Government-provided headstone or marker. A copy of the Reserve Retirement Eligibility Benefits Letter must accompany the application. Active duty service while in the National Guard or Reserves also establishes eligibility.
Service prior to World War I requires detailed documentation to prove eligibility such as, muster rolls, extracts from State files, military or State organization where served, pension or land warrants, etc.
Headstones and markers are provided for eligible spouses and dependents of veterans only when buried in a national, military post/base, or State veterans cemetery. Spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery are not eligible for a Government-provided headstone or marker. When burial or memorialization is in a national, post, or State veterans' cemetery a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin.
When burial is in a private cemetery, VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans' Cemetery, must be submitted by the next of kin, funeral director or cemetery representative, along with a copy of the veteran's military discharge documents, to request a Government-provided headstone or marker. Do not send original documents, as they will not be returned.
VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans' Cemetery and additional application information may be obtained at any VA national cemetery or regional office by calling 1-800-827-1000. This form is available on the Home Page; however, it may not be filled out and submitted electronically or by fax.
All completed applications should be mailed to:
Memorial Programs Service (403) Department of Veterans Affairs 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20420-0001
Military Funeral Honors "Honoring Those Who Served"
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff assist with military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries.
On January 1, 2000, the Department of Defense began the implementation plan for providing military funeral honors for eligible veterans as enacted in Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2000.
"Honoring Those Who Served" is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to veterans who have defended our Nation. While military funeral honors are a long-standing tradition within the Armed Forces, this DOD program is in response to the new law governing funeral honors for eligible veterans.
Upon the family's request, the law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons with at least one a member of the veteran's parent service of the Armed Forces. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veterans' family. Veterans organizations may assist in the provision of military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a national cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by the funeral home.
Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may be sent to the address listed below. A military funeral honors web site is located at www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil.
Military Funeral Honors 9504 IH-35 North, Suite 320 San Antonio, TX 78233-6635
WHAT TO DO WHEN A BENEFICIARY DIES:
A family member or other person responsible for the beneficiary's affairs should do the following:
· Promptly notify Social Security of the beneficiary's death by calling SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
· If monthly benefits were being paid via direct deposit, notify the bank or other financial institution of the beneficiary's death. Request that any funds received for the month of death and later be returned to Social Security as soon as possible.
· If benefits were being paid by check, DO NOT CASH any checks received for the month in which the beneficiary died or thereafter. Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible.
One-time Lump Sum Death Benefit:
A one-time payment of $255 is payable to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the beneficiary at the time of death, OR if living apart, was receiving Social Security benefits on the beneficiary's earnings record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who was eligible for benefits on the beneficiary's earnings record in the month of death.
Benefits for Survivors: Monthly survivors benefits can be paid to certain family members, including the beneficiary's widow or widower, dependent children and dependent parents. The following booklets contain more information about filing for benefits and can be downloaded by clicking on the title.
We are revising it to reflect the provisions of the new law. In the meantime, to see how these changes may affect you, click here.
The loss of the family wage earner can be devastating to the survivors.
This is an explanation of the benefits Social Security can provide for the family. This Area is divided into two sections.
· If you are working, the first part tells you what kind of survivors benefits your tax dollars are paying for and how those benefits are earned.
· If someone in your family has died, the second part explains how to sign up for Social Security benefits and what you need to know after benefits start.
Please Note: This Section provides a general overview of Social Security survivors benefits. The information it contains is not intended to cover all provisions of the law. For specific information about your case, contact Social Security. Social Security's Toll-Free Number 1-800-772-1213 Internet: http://www.ssa.gov
Part 1-If You're Working . . . What You Need To Know About Survivors Benefits "Life Insurance" From Social Security How You Earn Survivors Benefits? Who Can Get Survivors Benefits? Special One-Time Death Benefit Benefits For Surviving Divorce Spouses How Much Are Benefits?
Part 2-If A Loved One Has Died . . . What You Need To Know About Survivors Benefits How Do I Apply For Benefits? How Much Will You Get? Maximum Family Benefits Retirement Benefits For Widow(ers) What If I Work? If You Remarry? A Word About Medicare Help For Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries Your Personal Information Is Safe With Social Security For More Information Other Booklets Available
Part 1-If You're Working ... What You Need To Know About Survivors Benefits "Life Insurance" From Social Security Many people think of Social Security as a retirement program. But, retirement benefits are just one part of the Social Security program. Some of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward survivors insurance.
In fact, the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security is probably more than the value of your individual life insurance. When someone who has worked and paid into Social Security dies, survivor benefits can be paid to certain family members. These include widows, widowers (and divorced widows and widowers), children, and dependent parents. You, along with millions of other people, earn survivors insurance by working and paying Social Security taxes. Right now, 98 out of every 100 children could get benefits if a working parent should die.In fact, Social Security pays more benefits to children than any other federal program.
How You Earn Survivors Benefits
When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors benefits if you worked, paid Social Security taxes and earned enough "credits." You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you die. The younger a person is, the fewer credits he or she needs to have family members be eligible for survivors benefits. But nobody needs more than 40 credits (10 years of work) to be eligible for any Social Security benefits.
Under a special rule, benefits can be paid to your children and your spouse who is caring for the children, even though you don't have the number of credits needed. They can get benefits if you have credit for one and one half years of work in the three years just before your death.
Who Can Get Survivors Benefits?
When you die, Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to your:
· widow or widower-full benefits at 65 or older (if born before 1938)or reduced benefits as early as age 60. (The age for receiving full benefits gradually increases for persons born after 1937 until it reaches age 67 for persons born in 1960 and later.)A disabled widow or widower can get benefits at 50-60.The surviving spouse's benefits may be reduced if he or she also receives a pension from a job where Social Security taxes were not withheld. For more information, call Social Security to ask for the factsheet Government Pension Offset (Publication No. 05-10007);
· widow or widower at any age if she or he takes care of your child under 16 or disabled who get benefits;
· unmarried children under 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time).Your child can get benefits at any age if he or she was disabled before age 22 and remained disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to your stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children; or
· dependent parents at 62 or older.
Special One-Time Death Benefit
There is a special one-time payment of $255 that can be made when you die if you have enough work "credits." This payment can be made only to your spouse or minor children if they meet certain requirements.
Benefits for Surviving Divorced Spouses
If you've been divorced, your former wife or husband can get benefits under the same circumstances as your widow or widower if your marriage lasted 10 years or more.
Your former spouse, however, does not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule if she or he is caring for your child who is under 16 or disabled and who is also getting benefits on your Social Security record. The child must be your former spouse's natural or legally adopted child. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is age 60 or older (50-60 if disabled) will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors getting benefits.
How Much Are Benefits? How much your family can get from Social Security depends on your average lifetime earnings. That means the higher your earnings, the higher their benefits will be. If you would like to get an estimate of the Social Security survivors benefits that could be paid to your family, call or visit us to ask for a Form SSA-7004 (Request for Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement.)
Within four to six weeks after you complete and return the form to us, you will receive a statement showing an estimate of survivors benefits that could be paid, as well as an estimate of retirement and disability benefits and other important information. There's no charge for this service.
Part 2-If A Loved One Has Died... What You Need To Know About Survivors Benefits
How To Apply For Benefits
How you sign up for survivors benefits depends on whether or not you're getting other Social Security benefits.
If You Aren't Getting Social Security Benefits
You should apply for survivors benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive. You can apply by telephone or at any Social Security office. We need certain information to process your application. It's helpful if you have it when you apply. But don't delay applying if you don't have everything. We will help you get it. We need either original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them.
The information needed includes:
· proof of death-either from funeral home or death certificate; · your Social Security number, as well as the worker's;
· your birth certificate;
· your marriage certificate if you're a widow or widower;
· your divorce papers if you're applying as a surviving divorced spouse; · dependent children's Social Security numbers, if available;
· deceased worker's W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year; and
· the name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be directly deposited into your account.
If You're Already Getting Social Security Benefits
If you're getting benefits as a wife or husband on your spouse's record when he or she dies, you should report the death to us and we will change your payments to survivors benefits. If we need more information, we'll contact you. If you're getting benefits on your own record, you'll need to complete an application to get survivors benefits.
Call or visit us and we'll check to see if you can get more money as a widow or widower. We'll need to see your spouse's death certificate to process your claim.
Benefits for any children will automatically be changed to survivors benefits after the death is reported to us. We'll contact you if we need more information.
How Much Will You Get?
The amount of your benefit is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more he or she paid into Social Security, the higher your benefits will be.
The amount you will get is a percentage of the deceased's basic Social Security benefit. The percentage depends on your age and the type of benefit you are eligible for. Here are the most typical situations.
· widow or widower, age 65 or older-100 percent;
· widow or widower age, 60-64-about 71-94 percent;
· widow, any age, with a child under age 16-75 percent; or
· children-75 percent
Maximum Family Benefits
There is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid to you and other family members each month.The limit varies, but is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of the deceased's benefit rate. If the sum of the benefits payable to the family members is greater than this limit, the benefits will be reduced proportionately.
Retirement Benefits For Widow(ers)
If you are receiving widows or widowers (including divorced widows or widowers) benefits, you should remember that you can switch to your own retirement benefit as early as age 62. This assumes you're eligible and your retirement rate is higher than your widow'(er) rate. In many cases, a widow(er) can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then switch to the other benefit at an unreduced rate at age 65. The rules are complicated and vary depending on your situation, so you should talk to a one of our representatives about the options available to you.
What If I Work?
If you get Social Security survivors benefits, the amount of your benefits may be reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits. To find out what the limits are this year and how earnings above those limits reduce your social Security benefits, contact us to request the leaflet, How Work Affects Your Benefits (Publication No. 05-10069). There's no earnings limit once you reach age 70. Your earnings will reduce only your survivors benefits, not the benefits of other family members.
What If I Remarry?
Generally, you can't get survivors benefits if you remarry. But, remarriage after age 60 (50 if disabled) will not prevent benefit payments on your former spouse's record. And, at age 62 or older, you may get benefits on the record of your new spouse if they are higher.
A Word About Medicare
Medicare is a health insurance plan for people who are age 65 or older. People who are disabled or have kidney failure also can get Medicare. Medicare has two parts-hospital insurance and medical insurance. Most people have both parts. Hospital insurance, sometimes called Part A, covers inpatient hospital care and certain follow-up care. The worker already paid for it as part of his or her Social Security taxes while he or she was working.
Medical insurance, sometimes called Part B, pays for physicians' services and some other services not covered by hospital insurance. Medical insurance is optional, and you must pay a premium. Some people are already getting Social Security benefits when they turn 65, and their Medicare starts automatically.
Others must file an application. For more information, call the Health Care Financing Administration at 1-800 MEDICAR(E) and ask for a copy of the handbook, "Medicare and You". You also can visit the website at www.medicare.gov.
Help For Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries
If you get Medicare and have low income and few resources, your state may pay your Medicare premiums and, in some cases, other "out-of-pocket" Medicare expenses such as deductibles and coinsurance. Only your state can decide if you qualify. To find out if you do, contact your local welfare office or Medicaid agency. For more information about the program, contact Social Security and ask for a copy of the publication Medicare Savings For Qualified Beneficiaries (HCFA Publication No. 02184).
Your Personal Information Is Safe With Social Security
We keep personal information on millions of people. That information-such as your Social Security number, earnings record, age, and address-is personal and confidential. Generally, we will discuss this information only with you. We need your permission if you want someone else to help with your Social Security business.
If you ask friends or family members to call us, you need to be with them when they call so we will know that you want them to help. Our representative will ask your permission to discuss your Social Security business with that person.
If you send a friend or family member to our local office to conduct your Social Security business, send your written consent with them. Only with your written permission can SSA discuss your personal information with them and provide the answers to your questions. In the case of a minor child, the natural parent or legal guardian can act on the child's behalf in taking care of the child's Social Security business.
The privacy of your records is guaranteed. There are times when the law requires Social Security to give information to other government agencies to conduct other government health or welfare programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Medicaid, and food stamps. Programs receiving information from Social Security are prohibited from sharing that information.
For More Information
Recorded information and services are available 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays by calling Social Security's toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213
. You can call for an appointment or speak to a service representative between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. Our lines are busiest early in the week and early in the month, so if your business can wait, it's best to call at other times. Whenever you call, have your Social Security number handy.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. We treat all calls confidentially-whether they're made to our toll-free numbers or to one of our local offices. We also want to make sure that you receive accurate and courteous service. That's why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some incoming and outgoing telephone calls.
Other Booklets Available:
We have a number of publications that contain information about other Social Security programs. Contact us to get a free copy of any of these publications.
· Understanding The Benefits (Publication No. 05-10024)-A comprehensive explanation of all the Social Security programs.
· Retirement Benefits (Publication No. 05-10035)-Explains Social Security retirement benefits.
· Disability Benefits (Publication No. 05-10029)-Explains Social Security disability benefits.
· SSI (Publication No. 05-11000)-Explains this program which provides a basic income to people 65 or older, disabled, or blind who have limited income and resources.
· Benefits For Children With Disabilities (Publication No. 05-10026)-Explains benefits available to children with disabilities. All these publications are available in Spanish.
Notice Regarding Substitution of Party Upon Death of Claimant Form HA-539
If a claimant dies before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) completes his or her action on a request for hearing, an eligible individual may ask to substitute for the deceased and pursue the claim for benefits. You use this form to notify us that you want to pursue the deceased's claim.
Note: If you have not previously told us about the claimant's death, please do so by either contacting your local Social Security office or telephoning us at 1-800-772-1213. At that time, we can discuss any potential eligibility for survivors' benefits and any death benefit that may be due on the claimant's Social Security record with you.
If you have questions about whether you may qualify as a substitute party or how to complete this form, you may call 1-800-772-1213, your local Social Security office, or the hearing office. The address and telephone number of the hearing office are on the letter acknowledging receipt of the request for hearing we sent to the claimant.