Disability Lawyer

What happens if the Applicant dies?

If an applicant starts the process of Social Security Disability and dies, what happens to the claim?  This answer varies depending on the type of claim the applicant has and the length of time the claim is for.  Typically, if the applicant was only eligible for Supplemental Security Income, then the claim dies with the applicant.  Versus, if the claim was for Disability Insurance Benefits, the applicant’s claim could possibly continue. Under Disability Insurance Benefits, if the applicant dies within the five month waiting period, there would be no recovery.  There would be no recovery because there would be no amounts payable for those first five months. If the applicant dies after being out of work for a year, then there is the possibility of recovery.  For example:  Bernie stopped working in January 15, 2009 due to his disabling heart condition.  Bernie filed for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits on March 1, 2009.  Bernie’s condition deteriorated and he died February 20, 2010.   Under Disability Insurance Benefits, February – June 2009 would be the five month waiting period.  July 2009 – January 2010 would be the payable months of benefits.  February 2010 would not count because it was not a full month of benefits.  As a result, the next of kin to Bernie could file a Substitution of Party form to continue Bernie’s claim and try to prove Bernie’s disability since January 15, 2009.  The next of kin refers to the person who is the closest to the deceased.  The first person Social Security looks for is a spouse.  If there is no spouse, Social Security looks for a minor child.  Whoever has custody of the minor child may be the Substitution of Party as the guardian of the next of kin.  If there is no minor child, then Social Security looks for any adult child.  If there is more than one adult child, then any one of the adult children could be the Substitution of Party. If there is no spouse, minor children, nor any adult children; Social Security would then look at the deceased’s parents.  Either one of the deceased’s parents may be the Substitution of Party.  If there is no spouse, minor children, adult children, nor any living parents, then the Executor of the deceased’s estate may be the Substitution of Party. Once the closest next of kin is found, Social Security will have the Substitution of Party prove he or she is the closest next of kin to the deceased.  In order to prove to be the closest next of kin, Social Security would want a certified copy of the Birth Certificate, Estate paperwork, or certified copy of the Marriage License. Social Security may have the Substitution of Party testify at the Administrative Law Judge hearing about the deceased’s condition and how the deceased’s condition affected him/her with their day to day activities.  In order words, what problems did the deceased have that prevent the deceased from doing household chores and from working.  If the Substitution of Party knew where the deceased had been treating, that would also be helpful in proving disability.