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To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, a person must be alive for the whole month for which a benefit is paid. In most instances, the check you receive in a given month represents payment for the preceding month. In other words, by design, the check (or direct bank deposit) arrives after the month for which it applies. In situations where a recipient dies late in the month, the Social Security Administration often is not notified of the death in time to stop the payment. When that happens, the check must be returned.
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