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SSDI applicant dies before hearing what are my options?

Recently on our disability forum a spouse asked, “My husband filed for SSDI benefits for a congenital heart condition but after waiting two years he died before the hearing. I was wondering what will happen now to his claim? Are we out of luck after the SSDI applicant dies or can I continue with the claim and receive benefits as his surviving spouse?”

Unfortunately, given the length of time for many disability cases to be settled it’s not that unusual for a SSDI applicant to die before they ever receive SSDI benefits. The good news is that even if that person does die while waiting for benefits you might be able to continue the disability claims process and eventually be awarded benefits owed to your husband.


SSDI applicant died who collects the SSDI underpayment?

Not all family members are entitled to pursue claims after another family member dies. With this in mind, let’s review who might be entitled to an SSDI underpayment. Specifically, the following relatives might be entitled to benefits:

-Child of the deceased

-Parents of the deceased who were entitled to disability benefits on the deceased person’s record

-Surviving spouse of the deceased who was entitled to benefits on the deceased person’s record or who was living with the disabled individual.

-In some cases an ex-spouse may also be entitled to benefits

Steps after a SSDI applicant dies for claiming SSDI benefits

If your spouse had a disability lawyer handling his case you will need to contact the attorney immediately and notify them that your husband has died. They will be able to guide you through the necessary steps to continue with the disability claim.

If you do not have a lawyer you can continue with the claim independently. First, contact the SSA and notify them of your husband’s death. You can reach the SSA office at 1-800-772-1213. They will need a copy of his death certificate.

You will also need to complete two forms: SSA Form HA-539 "Notice Regarding Substitution of Party Upon Death of Claimant" and SSA-1724 "Claim for Amounts Due in the Case of a Deceased Beneficiary." Both of these forms can be downloaded from the SSA website at or you can simply locate the nearest SSA office and go to the office and request the forms.

Bottom Line:

The SSA will not spend a lot of time searching for a beneficiary for SSDI after a claimant has died.  They should contact you if you were listed as a beneficiary on the application, but if your spouse did not list you for some reason and the SSA does not know that you exist, you might never be notified that you are entitled to benefits.

Since you took the time to ask the question, however, it’s safe to say that you were intimately involved in your husband’s care and probably helped him file for benefits. With this in mind, you will simply need to follow the steps outlined above and hope that the judge decides in favor of awarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to your husband. Talk to a lawyer if you have more questions about your options.

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