Some people die without collecting anything, some die before collecting as much as they put in, some people who do collect get more than they put in.
If they have a minor child, that child will receive benefits until they are 18. Their spouse may also be able to collect on that account when they retire if they haven't remarried and the benefit is higher than the one would be if they drew on their own account. There is also a 1 time survivors benefit paid to the decedent's immediate family (only about $255). If there is no one else to collect, no benefits are paid to the estate and the money is kept by SS.
It is best to contact a probate lawyer about estates. Social Security and VA benefits have been put in such upheaval by recent executive orders that there is no telling what the law is. No sooner does Obama issue an executive order than the courts overturn it, so there is some limitation on these abuses, but realize that times are nasty and getting nastier by the day, thanks to Obama.
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