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Deceased Claimant who gets the benefit?

We all know that it can take years for some SSI and SSDI disability claimants to receive their disability benefits. This can be very bad news for some claimants who are very sick. Did you know that it is not uncommon for claimants to die before they are awarded their SSI or SSDI disability benefits? If a claimant dies, however, this is not necessarily the end of their SSDI or SSI claim. Under some conditions there may be surviving members of the family who have the right to continue to pursue the disability back payments.

Death of Claimant and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

If a Social Security Disability Insurance claimant dies and is awarded benefits their surviving beneficiaries may be entitled to payments, but the recipient is not determined by a will or state laws but rather by rules established by the Social Security Administration. So who is entitled to the SSDI benefits?

  1. The surviving spouse who is living with the deceased claimant or who would have been entitled to the monthly benefits at the time of the death.

  2. Any child who may have been entitled to the SSDI benefits for the month that the SSDI claimant died.

  3. The parents of the deceased who would have been entitled to SSDI benefits at the time of the decedent’s death.

  4. The surviving spouse of the deceased.

  5. The children of the deceased.

  6. The legal representative of the deceased claimant’s estate.

Death of Claimant and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income is not paid like SSDI benefits. SSI benefits are only paid to one of two people: the surviving spouse (assuming they were living with the deceased when they died or the six months prior to the month of the death) or the parents of a blind or disabled child who was living with them at the time they died or within the six months before the death. If neither of these two examples exist than no one is paid the SSI benefits.

What should be done following the claimant’s death?

If the deceased had a disability lawyer working on their claim the disability lawyer should file the HA-539 Form (Notice Regarding Substitution Party Upon Death of Claimant). This form should be sent to the Social Security Administration with a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. Some disability lawyers will also request that the beneficiary of the SSDI benefit complete a new fee agreement and a new SSA-1696 form (Appointment of Representative). This form notifies the SSA that the beneficiary is now represented by the disability lawyer.

Keep in mind, if the SSDI or SSI case is pending, the death of the claimant may not guarantee that they will be awarded benefits. For instance, there may be examples where the death is not related in any way to the disabling conditions that were keeping the claimant from working (i.e. car accident). If the death is related to the claimant’s severe health conditions and the case is pursued, the disability lawyer needs to get a new medical release form the next of kin and request a full autopsy report to present as additional evidence for the Social Security Administration.
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