After the passing of a loved one, tying up loose ends may feel intimidating. You’ll have to report their death to the proper avenues. This is one of the most critical executor duties, so start by taking a deep breath, making a list, and doing one at a time.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Why Do You Need to Report the Death to Social Security?
- What You’ll Need to Gather Before You Report a Death to Medicare
- Steps for Reporting a Death to Medicare
- What Happens When You Report a Death to Medicare?
If your loved one was elderly, your loved one might have been on Medicare. If so, you’ll have to report their death to Social Security. Medicare is low-cost health insurance for senior citizens as well as those who qualify.
The process is easier than you might think, and it protects your family from fraud. Follow this step-by-step guide to make sure your loved one’s identity is protected.
Why Do You Need to Report the Death to Social Security?
Whether your loved one is receiving Social Security benefits or is covered under Medicare, their benefits end the month they die. Under Social Security regulations, the individual must live for the entire month to qualify for benefits. They cannot be prorated.
It is part of the executor’s legal duty to notify Social Security of any event affecting the individual’s benefits. This is especially true of death, which would mean halting all benefits. Failing to notify Social Security could result in fraud, as payments or benefits could be wrongly distributed after death.
Also, it’s in the estate’s best interest to report the death as soon as possible. Not only will this halt any payments into Medicare coverage, but it usually also triggers the one-time Social Security burial benefit. This money can be put towards funeral or burial expenses and is typically given to the surviving spouse or children.
The sooner you can report the death, the better. Any money paid from Social Security or benefits after the death will need to be paid back. Therefore, if you don’t report the death promptly, you may need to return funds to the government.
What You’ll Need to Gather Before You Report a Death to Medicare
It is simple to report a death to Medicare. The only thing you need is the beneficiary’s social security number. This is a process that can be done on your own or through your funeral home.
This is also an excellent time to get several copies of your loved one’s death certificate. There are many reasons you need a death certificate. However, you actually don’t need one to report a death to Medicare. That being said, you’ll need a death certificate to tie up other affairs and finances. If you’re wondering how to get a death certificate, check with your local record office or funeral home.
Who can report the death to Social Security?
Any close family member of the deceased or someone appointed as the executor of their affairs can report a death to social security.
The funeral home can also report the death to Medicare on the family’s behalf. This is what most families choose to do. It’s never a bad idea to follow-up with Medicare directly to ensure everything was appropriately settled.
Steps for Reporting a Death to Medicare
It’s important to report a death to Medicare as soon as possible. The longer you delay, the more complicated this process will become.
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1. Gather your loved one’s information
Before you call, gather your loved one’s information. If you’re a close family member or the executor, you can report their death to Social Security yourself. You will need:
- Their full name
- Their social security number
- Their date of birth
- Their death date
The most important thing is to have their social security number and death date. They may not ask for all of the above information, but it’s important to be prepared.
2. Call Social Security
To report the death, you can call Social Security directly. You can call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 AM and 7 PM on weekdays. When you call, let them know you are reporting the death of a loved one who was a Medicare recipient.
Alternatively, you can let your funeral home know that your loved one was a Medicare recipient. They are experienced at reporting deaths to Social Security. You’ll just need to provide them with your loved one’s information, and there may be an additional fee.
3. Check their monthly benefits
Last but not least, take a moment to check your loved one’s monthly benefits. If they were receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits through their bank or by check, you’ll need to make sure they haven’t been paid for the month of their death.
If they received a check that month or any month after that, do not cash it. The check will need to be returned to Social Security as soon as possible, along with any other benefits paid after death.
For example, suppose they died in August, and you didn’t report the death until September. In that case, you’ll need to report any payments for August and September. When in doubt, ask Social Security about what’s owed. The sooner this is taken care of, the more secure your loved one’s estate will be.
What Happens When You Report a Death to Medicare?
There are no further steps to take once you’ve reported the death to Medicare. As long as you don’t need to return any checks, you are free to continue on to other steps of securing their estate.
The next thing to wait for is the remaining $255 burial benefit. This will be given to the surviving spouse if they lived with the deceased at the time of death. Otherwise, the benefit will go to a qualifying child or family member.
It’s important not to collect any Social Security or Medicare benefits after your loved one’s death. This is considered fraud, and it can result in a criminal conviction. When in doubt, contact Social Security directly to understand what benefits apply to your loved one’s situation.
Hold onto any notices you receive from Social Security after the passing of your loved one. It’s not always clear how long to keep documents after a death, but you should hold onto these notices for a few years in case you need to refer back to them.
Making Final Arrangements with Medicare
When someone dies, you need to ensure you’re making all of the right arrangements. One of these crucial steps is to notify Social Security if your loved one was a Medicare beneficiary. While the funeral home typically does this on your loved one’s behalf, it’s good to stay on top of this yourself, just in case.
It’s currently not possible to report deaths online, so you’ll need to call during open, weekday hours. By notifying Medicare, you’ll also gain access to the survivor or burial benefit, which can help ease the financial burden of death. Taking care of these steps might be complicated, but it’s a final act of kindness for someone you love.
- “Report a death.” Medicare. www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/report-a-death.