Suspicious calls tout ficticious Social Security burial benefit

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SALT LAKE CITY — Word of a new Social Security burial benefit came to Anne Siler over the phone.

"A woman said she wanted to make an appointment in order to explain to us the new program for seniors, now that Social Security would be paying for burial expenses," said Siler. "They wanted to send someone out to explain the program to us."

Siler said she couldn't believe what the woman was telling her.

"Every time you hear the news, you hear how Social Security is struggling," said Siler. "To pay a minimum of $10,000 for a burial? How can they afford to do that for all the seniors?"

Siler told the caller no, saying she and her husband had already planned and paid for their burials. They had no expenses.

"Her reply?" said Siler. "Don't you want someone to reimburse you for all you've spent?"

Kurt L. Soffe of Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Homes says the Social Security Administration will never call you.

"You must always make a call to them," said Soffe.

Soffe told KSL the only benefits available to family members when someone passes away, is a lump-sum payment to a surviving spouse or child.

"And that benefit is still the same that it has been for over 65, 70 years – that is, $255," said Soffe.

Every time you hear the news, you hear how Social Security is struggling. To pay a minimum of $10,000 for a burial? How can they afford to do that for all the seniors?

–Anne Siler

There is no reimbursement for burial expenses for all seniors.

"I think these scammers are without conscience," said Soffe. "In a moment of grief, you're thinking more with your heart than you are with your head."

Soffe also told KSL the eligibility for the small Social Security death benefit is sometimes varied.

"You must be married," said Soffe, "and, if you're not married you must be living together. Those who have separated are not qualified."

Anne Siler hung up on her callers. She said they didn't get any money from her. But, she worries the bait of burial expenses will hook others.

"A lot of seniors are struggling," said Siler. "So, that probably sounds pretty good to them. I know a lot of people who have done nothing [to prepare for their burial], and so it's a concern for all of them, because it's so expensive."

Contributing: Mike Headrick

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