When someone receiving Social Security in the US dies, I have heard that there are some cases where the estate must return the last payment made by Social Security.

It makes total sense to me that if someone dies on the 25th and gets a Social Security payment on the 26th that the payment needs to be returned.

But I have also heard that if someone receives a Social Security payment on the 26th and dies on the 27th they may also have to return it.

In what cases does Social Security money need to be returned at death by the estate? What if the estate is bankrupt?

1 Answer 1


"...funds received for the month of death and later" must be returned.

If the estate is bankrupt, as near as I can tell, the SSA is out of luck. (This applies to payment apart from that covered above.)

If you need advice on something other than retirement insurance, a comprehensive list of applicable statutes and rulings is here.

  • 2
    Thanks for the links. Additionally I found this "Social Security benefits are paid each month, but for the previous month. For example, the check received in June is for the month of May." Which helps me even further.
    – Alex B
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 5:57

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