Can you keep the Social Security check for the month someone dies?

I was recently asked if you can keep (or do you have to return) a Social Security check for the month someone dies. Here is 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.

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. This site provides general information about Social Security disability cases in Colorado. To discuss your particular circumstances, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please review the full disclaimer .

About Tomasz Stasiuk

Tomasz Stasiuk is a Colorado Springs Social Security disability lawyer and the founding attorney of the Stasiuk Firm - a law firm specializing in Social Security disability cases in Colorado. Follow Tomasz Stasiuk on Google and Twitter

  • Michael Haller, Jr.

    Great post!  Common question and what better way to answer than go straight to the source.  I really enjoy your Blog and practice disability law in Nebraska.  Keep up the good work, Tomasz

  • Social Security Disability

    Hey Tomasz, great post. Do you know if there is a measure in place for the SSA to catch fraud committed by those who are receiving the benefits of a deceased individual?

  • Cbloula

    This applies for disability benefits as well as retirement/survivor benefits, as my uncle recently found out.

  • inky

    if a person dies on august 4th 2014 are they allowed to keep the august 3rd check whis is for july 2014

  • irvin fager

    if an ex wife dies that was drawing a percentage of ex husbands ss what happens to that percentage of ss

  • Rick

    Your articles are wrong on this we are having to go through this since my mom passed away a few weeks ago we sent her check back but now we was told by SSI admin we was supposed to have kept the check, she passed away on the 2nd again your articles are wrong according to the SSI admin

  • TomaszStasiuk

    According to Social Security’s written position, a person “must return a check for the month of death, or any later months.” www.*ssa*.gov/pubs/EN-05-10008.pdf

    Whether a check needs to be returned depends on the month it is for.

    I am glad Social Security was able to help straighten out the check issue in your mother’s case. You have my condolences on her passing.

  • Shirley

    My facts: husband died on February 2nd. Direct deposit of ss benefit on February 3rd for his January benefit. Bank says it has to return this deposit back to ss saying that my husband not only had to live the entire month of January but also had to live until day of direct deposit on February 3rd. Is bank correct or not?