A retired Japanese gentleman receives Social Security and so does his wife, on spousal benefits. He expects to die soon. The website says SSA must be notified in by phone. It also says she can get his benefit after he passes. I have learned from your books that you cannot count on what they say, so I'm asking you as a favor to a dying man.
Hi. Social Security does need to be notified if a person who's receiving benefits dies, but the notification doesn't necessarily need to be made by phone. Social Security is usually notified of a person's death through interfaces with state death indexes, or by mail by funeral directors, or by phone from a family member.
If a surviving spouse is at least full retirement age (FRA) and is receiving spousal benefits, then Social Security should automatically convert the spousal benefits to survivor benefits when they receive notice of the worker's death. Calling Social Security to report the death can help expedite that process.