Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm very sorry for your loss.
There is unfortunately no right for a non-spouse, non-family member to collect social security benefits on another person's record. The two of you would have had to have been married for at least 10 years for you to claim surviving spouse benefits. They're not allowed to count time you were together, unmarried. A POA terminates at the moment a person dies, so that does not give you any legal authority. A joint bank account has a right of survivorship, which means that any money in the account at the time of your partner's death automatically transfers to you. Any money in the account received from benefits paid before the death are yours. Social security does have to be notified of the death, and they may seek to recover any payments accidentally made before they were notified.
I'm sorry that I don't have better news for you. I have to tell people what the law says, even when it wouldn't benefit them, and I'd be doing you a huge disservice to tell you anything but the truth, even when I know it's not what you were hoping to hear. Again, I'm sorry for your loss. Good luck.