Social Security is the only income of many Americans. The limited monthly amount causes many older people a difficult time when it comes to buying medication, groceries, paying rent, utilities, and other expenses. Of course, this also means they have a difficult time when trying to save money to pay for their burial expenses. You might think, ah, not to worry as Social Security provides a lump-sum benefit. Well, look at it differently; it will not even be a sufficient amount to cover a cremation.
Social Security And Death
You would think that the death benefit would be worth more than it is. After all, it does mean the deceased person will no longer receive benefits (although they can be passed on to the spouse. If there is no spouse, the money is no longer offered each month). Do you know that the lump-sum death benefit has not been increased for the last eight decades? If you are presently receiving benefits, then your parents received the same amount for burial, as your spouse or children will receive. And what is the total amount? The present lump-sum death benefit is $255. That’s a slap in the face to older adults. It is also disrespectful, rude, and disgusting. A country that was able to send out a minimum of a $1200 stimulus check this year, while looking at sending out another check, is this truly all that can be spent on a dead social security recipient’s funeral?
An Increase In Social Security Death Benefits
In 2016, the lump-sum death benefits totaled about $204 million. This is less than 0.03 percent of the total Social Security benefit payments. There have been some recent congressional proposals that would have increased the benefit. Several presidential budget proposals have also suggested changes. None, of course, were ever enacted. Often even the $255 is not paid. For example, if there is no spouse or any children, no death benefit is paid. Why not use this money saved to increase the $255? The lump-sum benefits for 782,300 deaths, in 2016, is estimated to remain at this level during the next few years. In 2016 only 42 percent of benefits were paid out. Why not use the remaining 58% and that would at least double the amount of the death benefit to more than $500. This is still a small amount, but it’s not so embarrassing to seniors facing death. The 111th Congress proposed to increase the benefit from $255 to $332. The 114th Congress proposed to increase the benefit to $1,000. The 114th Congress was at least offering something that would be worthwhile to the family. However, neither of these proposals passed.
The death benefit is an embarrassment to Congress, seniors, and the people in the U.S. How far will $255 go when money is needed for a funeral? What kind of respect is this showing a senior who has worked their entire life to pay their bills?