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Social Security Disability & SSI Benefits After Death

91ddd6_157448acdf6d409f98c7e90628bb0b7b.jpgIf somebody asked you whether or not it is possible to be paid benefits for someone who has passed away, how would you reply?

You might be surprised to learn that, in certain special cases, it is possible to be paid benefits for an individual that has passed away. But how is it possible to get benefits for a person who is no longer living?

If a claimant had already been awarded benefits by the Social Security Administration and was due back-due benefits but died before being paid, family members may then fill out a form titled 'Claim for Amounts Due in case of a Deceased Beneficiary'. If the Social Security Administration determines that the family member or family members are eligible to be paid these back-due benefits, it is then possible for them to release payment. However, the family member or family members would not be eligible to receive the claimant's future (ongoing monthly) benefits. This does not mean that it is not possible to receive an ongoing monthly payment in the event of a claimant's death- in fact, the claimant's survivors may be eligible for survivor's benefits. However, this is separate from receiving money that was due to the claimant themselves.

If a claimant dies before being awarded, the rules are different depending on whether the claim in question is for Social Security Disability benefits or SSI benefits.

If a claimant with a pending Social Security Disability claim dies and the claim is at the Initial Application or Reconsideration stage, then it is possible to go forward with a process that the Social Security Administration refers to as 'DIB after death' ('DIB' is just Social Security Administration jargon for 'Social Security Disability'). In the case of a DIB after death claim, there is an ordered list of individuals who are eligible to collect benefits. The survivor(s) in the highest position on this list are eligible to collect the deceased claimant's back-due benefits. Any survivors below them would not be eligible. First on the list are (in this order): surviving spouses, children, or parents who are eligible to collect survivor's benefits according to the Social Security Administration's rules. After that come spouses, children, or parents (in that order) who are not eligible to collect survivor's benefits. If there are multiple individuals eligible in a single spot on the list (ie if there are multiple children or two eligible parents), then the benefit money is split evenly between these individuals. If there exist no such survivors, then the client's estate may be paid back-due benefits. Because there is a 5-month waiting period for Social Security Disability benefits, the deceased claimant's onset of disability must be more than 5 months from their date of death for back-due benefits to be paid. Even though only one individual or group of individuals can be paid benefits, any individual on this list may continue the claim on behalf of the deceased claimaint.

If a claimant with a pending SSI claim dies and the claim is at the Initial Application or Reconsideration stage, the rules are stricter than those that govern the Social Security Disability Insurance program. First, a surviving spouse who was living with the claimant at the time of their death (or within 6 months of their death) may collect benefits. Second, surving parents of a deceased child claimant may collect benefits if they were living with the child at the time of death (or within 6 months of death).

If a claimant dies before being awarded and the claim had advanced to the hearing stage, it may then be possible to do a 'substitution of party'. This applies to both Social Security Disability and SSI claims. A substitution of party is when the Social Security Administration permits another individual to essentially stand in as the claimant for the deceased individual's claim. The rules regarding who may continue the claim and who can be paid benefits are the same regardless of whether the claim is at the Hearing stage, Initial Application stage, or Reconsideration stage.

In some cases, it is even possible to start a new claim after an individual has died. If the claim is for Social Security Disability benefits, the claim must be started within 3 months of the claimant's death. If the claim is for SSI benefits, the individual must have a 'PFD' (protective filing date) with the Social Security Administration, and the claim must be filed within 60 days of the PFD. In other words, the individual must have spoken to SSA about filing a claim, and the claim can only be filed up to two months after that conversation.

If you have any questions about receiving Social Security Disability benefits or SSI benefits after the death of a claimant, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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