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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

When No Spouse Living in Household

431. When No Spouse Living in Household

431.1 Who receives the lump-sum death payment if there is no spouse living in the household?

Providing he or she is entitled to or eligible for benefits as a widow(er), mother, or father for the month the worker dies, the lump-sum is payable to a surviving spouse not living with the deceased worker at time of death if:

  1. There is no spouse living in the same household with the worker when he or she died; or

  2. The surviving spouse dies before the lump-sum is paid.

431.2 Who is considered an "eligible" person?

An "eligible" person is one who would have been entitled to benefits had a timely application been filed.

431.3 Can the lump-sum be paid to a divorced spouse?

No, the lump-sum is not payable to a divorced spouse.

431.4 Who receives the lump-sum if there are two surviving spouses?

In rare situations, there may be two surviving spouses (e.g., one meets the requirement in §402 (A)(1) and the other meets the requirement in § 402 (A)(2)). Both spouses may be eligible for the lump-sum, even though neither was living in the same household as the worker when he or she died. In this situation, the lump-sum is equally divided between the spouses.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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