Medicare Death Benefits - Social Security And More

By: Meredith Miller
Published: Thursday, September 13 2018
Last Updated: 4 years ago

Dealing with the death of a loved one is a confusing, stressful, and heartbreaking time for anyone. This is particularly true if you've lost a spouse or a parent. There are many practical things that you have sort through while you are dealing with your own personal grief, not least of all are all financial loose ends you will have to tie up.

Funerals are also an expensive undertaking, often costing tens of thousands of dollars. It is important for you to be prepared for what, if any, Social Security death benefits and Medicare death benefits are available to you, how to receive them, and what they may or may not cover.

Does Medicare Cover Death Benefits?

Traditional Medicare death benefits are nonexistent. Most medical plans, including the Original Medicare coverage with Part A and Part B, provide little in the way of support for a deceased beneficiary's loved ones.

The only scenario in which surviving family members may have access to Medicare death benefits is if the deceased had certain high-deductible Medicare Advantage plans. Such plans often include health savings account and it is possible, in certain circumstances, that some of the remaining funds in the savings account can be used for the burial and other death-related costs.

While the funeral and burial costs aren't usually covered by Medicare death benefits, you won't need to worry about any health costs related to the death of you're loved on or any illness that preceded their passing. Medicare will continue to pay any remaining medical bills under the terms of the Medicare coverage.

This means if the deceased receives a final hospital bill, or ambulance bill, for example, Medicare will pay whatever portion of that bill Medicare normally pays. This is usually 80% of the cost but may vary depending on the circumstances and any additional coverage the beneficiary may have had.

The Social Security $255 Benefit

While there are not any burial death benefits under you or your spouse’s Medicare coverage, there are Social Security death benefits. The death benefits for a spouse include a payment of $255. Surviving spouses can receive this one-time payment when the deceased was earning certain Social Security benefits and they were sharing the same home or separated but receiving shared benefits. While this amount isn't much, it can help during a trying time.

Who Receives Burial Benefits?

Burial death benefits generally go to a surviving spouse. Even if the couple was not living together, the spouse is often eligible for any benefits. If there is no spouse, a child who remains eligible for the deceased’s Social Security benefits, usually a dependent minor for example, can receive some of these burial death benefits. This may include the one-time Social Security payment of $255.

What Happens When Someone Dies On Medicare?

When a Medicare beneficiary dies, the death needs to be reported to a Social Security office. Most funeral homes will take care of this step. It is important that any Social Security benefits received in the deceased’s name after, and often including the month of the death, are returned. Medicare will complete payment of any final medical bills, and the health insurance coverage will be termed from the date of death.

Reporting The Death Of A Medicare Beneficiary

Social Security will report the death of your loved one to Medicare if they were a Medicare beneficiary with original Medicare Parts A & B. If they were enrolled under a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), Medigap Supplemental plan, or Medicare Part D prescription coverage, you will need to contact those plans individually to report the death.

What You’ll Need To Provide

The documentation you will need to supply depends on the circumstances. If you are simply reporting the death, then the death certificate will probably be sufficient documentation to terminate any health benefits. If you are seeking additional death benefits for a spouse or Social Security death benefits you may need to supply a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or decree of divorce, etc. Social Security, Medicare, and any other insurance company will inform you if additional documentation is required.