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What happens when a claimant dies and there is a disability application pending? Can a family member still receive the claimant’s disability benefits? Cannon Disability Law can help your family after the death of a loved one who filed an application for disability security disability benefits

Sadly, this is a common occurrence, because many people die awaiting the resolution of their disability application. It can take years to obtain a favorable decision from the SSA. The reason that it can take years to hear from the SSA, is the lengthy appeal process. For instance, the initial stage of the application usually takes 3-4 months for a decision. And, the decision is usually a denial. The claimant has 60 days to appeal an initial determination. The next stage of the process, reconsideration, takes another 3-4 months. Sometimes, the reconsideration stage takes longer because the SSA sends the claimant to their doctor. It can take a number of months for SSA to receive the doctor’s report.

A family member can file the proper paperwork and continue a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The SSD claim does not die with the claimant. SSI claims, however, are not the same as an SSD claim. The only time a family member should consider pursuing an Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim is if the claimant filed the application in the past. The reason for that is SSI benefits are not payable any month after the claimant’s death. Therefore, only back benefits from an application filed in the past and ending at the claimant’s death, would be available to a family member who proves the claimant was disabled.

Continuing an SSDI Claim After the Claimant Dies

An SSDI claim doesn’t die with the claimant. Social Security may decide even after a person has died that he or she should have been entitled to monthly SSDI benefits before death. SSA calls this situation an “underpayment.” The following order of preference dictates who may collect an SSDI underpayment:

  • a surviving spouse who was living with the disabled person, or who was entitled to SSDI benefits on the person’s record, during the month of death
  • any child or children entitled to disability benefits on the deceased person’s record during the month of death, and
  • any parents of the decedent entitled to benefits on the deceased person’s record during the month of death.

If none of the above relatives are alive, the deceased claimant’s benefits will go to any surviving spouse, child, or parent, who doesn’t qualify under the above criteria. Otherwise, the payments flow to the estate of the deceased claimant.

Filing the Proper Paperwork – Substitution of Party

In order for the SSA to continue a disability claim for a deceased claimant, they will need the proper paperwork. You should send the SSA a copy of the claimant’s death certificate. Additionally, you will need to send the 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 obtained online at or you can get them by visiting the local SSA office.

Cannon Disability Law Can Help You Obtain Benefits If You Have Lost a Family Member Who Applied for Benefits

Cannon Disability Law has been representing disability claimants for over 30 years. We have representatives with the experience you need in order to win benefits. You can contact our office for free, either by calling us or using our contact page on this website. When you call us, expect for us to answer your questions for free.  Also, it does not cost you anything for us to evaluate your case or to accept you as one of our clients. Additionally, we are only paid an attorney fee if we win your disability case. If we do not win, then you do not owe an attorney fee. This is called a contingency fee and it lets you hire an attorney when you do not have a job or means to pay up-front attorney fees.  Contact us today and put our experience to work for you.

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