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Can A Dead Person Collect Unemployment?

Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: The answer to the question posed in the headline is “No.”

Since we answered the initial question already, here’s another one to ponder: What happens to benefits when the person collecting them suddenly dies? Benefits that are still processing or being received posthumously is where things can get complicated.

The problems really arise in situations when the person accepting and cashing the benefits has no legal claim to the money, or really anything more than a cursory relationship with the deceased.

For example, in 2020 a Connecticut woman was charged with larceny for taking the unemployment benefits of someone she lived with who had passed away. According to the official report:

“The Defendant, age fifty, was arrested by Inspectors from the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit and charged with one count each of Larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community, Identity Theft in the Second Degree, and Unemployment Compensation Fraud.”

The woman had collected over $6,000 in unemployment benefits meant for someone who lived where she also resided.

It’s important to point out that the accused woman was not married to the deceased, which is an important distinction. You may receive unemployment benefits and be entitled to receive Social Security from a deceased spouse or ex-spouse, if you have been married more than 10 years.

Warning: In any and all instances you need to check with the Department of Labor and Social Security offices before accepting and spending any money. Do a Google search to find local offices in your state to avoid any possible issues. An accidental mistake could lead to large penalties and possible criminal charges.

What To Do If Someone Has Died While Receiving Unemployment:

Make sure you have all of this information about the deceased:

  • Their full name
  • Their Social Security number
  • Their date of birth and death
  • A death certificate
  • Your name and address
  • Your relationship to the person who died (proof, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, may be required)
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate

In some cases, you may be asked to provide:

  • The deceased’s most recent W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return
  • The name of your bank and your account number so benefits can be directly deposited into your account

In most cases, a funeral director will report a person's death to the Social Security Administration (SSA) when filing for a death certificate. A family member can also make a report themselves to an SSA representative by calling them directly.

If any funds are available for you to collect, they should let you know. If you think you’re owed funds but the DOL or Social Security offices claim you are not, do a search for a “Public Benefits Advocate” in your state for legal assistance.

  • Money Organization
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