What Happens If I Die Before My Social Security Disability Claim Is Approved?

Jul 31, 2011 Comments Off by Charles Hall

Question: What happens if I die before my Social Security disability claim is approved?

Answer: Yes, it’s a morbid question but it’s one I get more often than you might think. It’s a question that deserves an answer.

The claim probably won’t die if you die. Anything owed to you at the time you die will probably be paid to someone else.

The exception where back benefits are not paid is where the case is only Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and you’re not married or living with you spouse and you are not a child claimant living with a parent.

You can probably already figure out who gets what Social Security calls the “underpayment” when an SSI claimant died — the spouse living with the claimant or a parent with whom a child claimant has been living.

Non-SSI cases, what Social Security attorneys call “Title II” cases,  normally are paid not on the basis of any will you have and not on the basis of state laws concerning the estates of those who die without a will but under a set of priorities set forth in the Social Security Act. This is the list of priorities:

  1. The surviving spouse of the deceased individual who either (i) was living in the same household with the deceased at the time of his death or (ii) was, for the month in which the deceased individual died, entitled to a monthly benefit on the basis of the same wages and self-employment income as was the deceased individual;
  2. The child or children, if any, of the deceased individual who were, for the month in which the deceased individual died, entitled to monthly benefits on the basis of the same wages and self-employment income as was the deceased individual (and, in case there is more than one such child, in equal parts to each such child);
  3. The parent or parents, if any, of the deceased individual who were, for the month in which the deceased individual died, entitled to monthly benefits on the basis of the same wages and self-employment income as was the deceased individual (and, in case there is more than one such parent, in equal parts to each such parent);
  4. The surviving spouse of the deceased individual;
  5. The child or children of the deceased individual (and, in case there is more than one such child, in equal parts to each such child);
  6. The parent or parents, if any, of the deceased individual (and, in case there is more than one such parent, in equal parts to each such parent); or
  7. The legal representative of the estate of the deceased individual
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About the author

Charles Hall is the lead attorney for the Charles Hall Law Firm in Raleigh, NC. He has been practicing in the Social Security Disability law field since 1979, is published, and is ready to help new clients win their benefits in North Carolina.