Free money: if you’re unlucky

Free money: if you’re unlucky


Free money? How is that unlucky?   Yeah, I can see you quirking your eyebrow at me.  When your parent passes, some banks return money they aren’t supposed to which means you have to get it back.

Social Security:  my mom’s bank returned her Social Security money when we informed them she passed.  When I went to visit Social Security later, I was informed Social Security pays for the month previous so it should not have been returned.

To get the money back, I was given a form to write mine and my siblings’ names and addresses as the surviving children.  Under some circumstances if there is a deceased child, the grandchildren may also need to be listed. A few other questions and the thing was done.  It’s a pretty short 2-page form. Since the form only has space for two children, I had to attach a third sheet because my parents had more than 2.

I took the form back to the local Social Security office.  I thought they would need a birth certificate so brought a copy of mine and my sister’s. Apparently they used to require a birth certificate but no longer with the new paper-saving act.  They use the federal databases to confirm you are the children and if they need further proof will send a request for it.

The local office faxes the form to the processing center and warned me it generally takes 90 days or longer for the checks to be disbursed. They are mailed directly to the surviving spouse, or if no spouse, the surviving children.  It won’t go to the deceased parent’s account so you don’t need to keep their account open for this.

The clerk stamped the paper with the date and gave it back. He showed me the scan that was now in the system.  That is the proof the paperwork is filed and sent to the processing center. They will do the research there as to the validity of the claim.

You can mail the form to the local Social Security office instead of going there.  I just like having the confirmed stamped proof that I turned it in and also it’s easier to ask questions in person.

The clerk was very helpful.  My dad had passed away 8 years before and had used the same bank so we checked on that too.  Yep, money to be dispersed there too.  So two sets of paperwork needed to be sent in.  Among the surviving children, only one should be designated among yourselves to turn the paperwork in.  It is not recommended that multiple sets of paperwork be turned in by different family members.

If you want to check if there is money left in your deceased parent’s account to be disbursed to a remaining parent, or if they have both passed, to the surviving children, go to your local social security office.  You need to bring an ID. They will ask you some questions to prove you are one of their children.  I brought a death certificate as well.

The wait time at the Social Security office was not bad.  I do suggest bringing something to read though.  Going earlier is better than going later as the wait times are a little shorter when they first open. At least they were here.

Direct Deposit Pensions:  Most pensions also pay the month after.  Check with the parent’s pension to see if the final check is to remain in the account.  If the bank has returned it erroneously, ask the pension/retirement office what the procedure is to get it back. If a check or direct deposit will be sent back to the deceased’s account, you may need to leave the checking account open longer until it arrives.

Direct Deposit Paychecks:  Pretty much the same as pensions.

Most banks no longer return the social security, pensions or paychecks unless requested to do so.  A few do.

Tip: Check with pension/retirement offices to see if money is to be returned before going to the bank to inform them of the death. Check the bank’s policy when you bring the death certificate.  If the bank doesn’t return unless requested, no worries. If your bank does, you’ll be able to inform them of the pension/retirement office’s policy.

Since I had already called the pension office to inform them of my mom’s death, I informed the bank they paid the month after so the bank should not return that one (which they had on my dad’s passing).  I’m sure they checked on it but at least the money remained in the account instead of automatically returning it. I wish I had called the social security office as well but oh well.

Note: I did this a few months after my mom passed since I couldn’t deal with stuff right away.  My dad had passed 8 years ago but they said it was ok to submit the paperwork for him as well.  I’ll let you know how it goes in a few months.

Now my siblings and I’ll have to wait 90 days or more.  I do think of it as free money though as it was unexpected.  Unlucky though, because honestly, I’d rather my parents were alive.  Thinks about their fight with cancer. Well, alive, healthy, mentally acute and without pain.  Sorry.  Just all this stuff makes me think of them.



Social Security Office
3808 N 1st Ave 
Tucson, AZ 85719

Leave a Reply


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox:

%d bloggers like this: