Given the lengthy process of applying and receiving Social Security benefits and the severity of many Claimants’ illnesses, it is sadly not uncommon for a Social Security disability Claimant to die during the pendency of the process. However, if a Social Security disability applicant dies before being approved for benefits, it may be possible for a family member of the Claimant to receive any benefits owed to the deceased Claimant. The rules concerning substitution of parties in the case of a deceased Claimant depend on the type of disability claim filed.
Under Title II or a Social Security disability claim, an applicant’s claim does not die with the applicant. Social Security may still decide to pay an applicant’s claim after death in what is called an “underpayment.” If an applicant dies before being approved for benefits, a substitute party may continue to pursue the original applicant’s claim. Those eligible to pursue the deceased’s claim are listed below in the order of priority:
- A surviving spouse who was living with the decedent or who was entitled to Social Security benefits of the decedent’s record during the month of death.
- A child or children of the deceased individual who was entitled to disability benefits under the decedent’s record during the month of death.
- Any parent of the deceased individual who was entitled to benefits on the decedent’s record during the month of death.
If none of the above applies, the deceased Claimant’s benefits would go to any surviving spouse, child, or parent. If the deceased Claimant did not have any surviving family, the benefits would go to the estate of the decedent.
The rules for Title XVI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are narrower than that of Social Security Disability claim. If the applicant had an SSI claim pending at the time of his or her death, the Claimant’s surviving spouse, who was either living with the disability applicant at the time of the applicant’s death or within 6 months of the applicant’s death, may continue an already-filed SSI claim. Similarly, parents of a deceased child who had a SSI claim pending may also collect the underpayment of the child as long as the parents had been living with the child within 6 months of the child’s death.
For more information on the Social Security disability process and substitution of parties, contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents Social Security disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process from initial application to appeals to Federal Court.