How much does Social Security pay a surviving spouse?

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No one likes to think about what life would look like as a widow or widower, but it’s important to be prepared for the financial impact of losing a spouse.

Not only is it essential to ensure your spouse could cover your final expenses, but you also need to consider the loss of your income if you’re still working, your children’s education costs, your spouse’s ability to maintain their lifestyle and more.

Here are some expenses to consider when planning for your final expenses:

  • Funeral costs—Average cost for a basic viewing and burial with vault is $8,505 1

  • Payment of debts—As applicable

  • Estate taxes—If required, must generally be paid within nine months

  • Probate—Legal process of taking inventory of the deceased’s estate and fulfilling final obligations to creditors or claimants

  • Legal expenses—In some states, attorney and court fees related to public probate can take up to 5% of an estate’s value2

  • Emergency fund for your survivors—Help spouse cover home repairs, transportation needs and health maintenance

  • Mortgage or rent fund—So your spouse can stay in their home

  • Education fund—If you’re still saving for your kids’ college

  • Lost family income—If you’re still working

  • Other miscellaneous costs—Such as travel costs for out-of-town family members to attend funeral and family traditions like funeral luncheons


Will Social Security cover these costs?

When someone passes away, their surviving spouse or other entitled person can apply for a Social Security benefit. This requires submission of birth, marriage and death certificates. Currently, Social Security provides a lump-sum benefit of $255. Unfortunately, this amount will not begin to cover the final expenses described above.


How can I ensure financial security for my spouse?

A life insurance policy from Bankers Life can help give you the peace of mind of knowing your beneficiary has a source of funds upon your death and a more secure and independent future. Ready to learn more? Get in touch with one of our agents/producers to find a policy that can meet your needs.

Everything you need for the life of your retirement

1National Funeral Directors Association, National Median Cost of an Adult Funeral with Viewing and Burial,, 2017.

2Forbes, Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered,, April 7, 2017.