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What Happens When an Applicant Passes Away During the Disability Claims Process?

March 8, 2021

applicant dies during disability claims processUnfortunately, many applicants pass away before receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Most are already suffering from severe impairments when they decide to apply for disability. The claims process can also take months or even years, depending on the wait time, to receive a decision and/or the number of appeals that must be pursued due to a denial.

In certain cases, however, a family member may be able to file a disability claim or continue an open claim on behalf of the deceased applicant. Dayes Law Firm discusses the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) rules for proceeding with SSDI or SSI claims after the death of a disabled loved one.

We want to help you obtain the benefits you need. An initial consultation costs nothing and comes with no obligation to retain legal representation. If you hire us, we charge no upfront fees for our services.

Continuing an SSDI Claim Filed Before Death

A SSDI claim does not necessarily end after an applicant passes away. The SSA may decide that an applicant who has passed was eligible to receive monthly disability payments prior to his or her passing. This is known as an underpayment.

Family members who may be eligible to collect an SSDI underpayment include:

  • A surviving spouse who was living with the applicant at the time of death, or who is eligible to receive monthly disability payments on the applicant’s record during the month of death
  • If there is no surviving spouse, any children eligible to receive monthly disability payments on the deceased applicant’s record during the month of death
  • If there is no spouse or children, any parents of the applicant eligible to receive monthly disability payments on the deceased applicant’s record during the month of death

If there are no surviving family members, the deceased applicant’s disability payments will go to any other surviving spouse, child or parent who did not meet the above criteria. Payments can also be sent to the deceased applicant’s estate.

Filing an SSDI Claim After an Applicant Passes Away

If an applicant did not have the chance to file an SSDI claim before passing, a surviving family member can act as a beneficiary and file a claim on his or her behalf.

Beneficiaries have three months from the month of death to file a claim. If the applicant was issued a protective filing date – because he or she called or wrote a letter to the SSA indicating his or her intent of filing an SSDI claim – a beneficiary has up to six months to file a claim from the month of death.

Do the Same Rules Apply to Continue an SSI Claim?

Unlike an SSDI claim, the rules for continuing an SSI claim work a bit differently. A surviving spouse who was living with the applicant at the time of his or her passing – or within six months from the month of death – may continue to pursue an open SSI claim and collect an underpayment. 

If the applicant passed before filing an SSI claim, a surviving family member will generally be unable to file a new SSI claim on his or her behalf. The only exception is if the deceased applicant was issued a protective filing date because he or she informed the SSA about starting a claim. In these situations, a family member or beneficiary has about 60 days from the protective filing date to file an SSI claim.

Proceeding with a Disability Claim on Behalf of a Deceased Applicant

The SSA will need a copy of the applicant’s death certificate. The following forms will also need to be completed and submitted:

  • Form HA-539 – Notice Regarding Substitution of Party Upon Death of Claimant
  • Form SSA-1724 – Claim for Amounts Due in the Case of a Deceased Beneficiary

An experienced lawyer can help file these forms for you and guide you through rest of the claims process. If this includes appealing a denied claim, he or she can help you with this process too.

Dayes Law Firm is Here to Help You and Your Family

If you need help pursuing an open claim or filing a new one on behalf of a deceased applicant, Dayes Law Firm is here to help. Our Social Security Disability lawyers in Phoenix know what it takes to build a strong disability case to help obtain the benefits you and your family need during this difficult time.

Our initial consultations are 100 percent free and confidential. There is no risk in calling our firm to discuss your situation with us and no obligation to have us represent you. If we validate your claim, we charge nothing up front for our services and only get paid if you receive monthly disability payments.

Talk to a lawyer today. Ph: 1-800-503-2000

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