It can take a few years for an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to be approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an applicant to die while his application is being considered by the SSA or he is going through the appeal process. However, this does not necessarily mean that he no longer has a right to disability benefits.
Who May Be Able to Pursue an Applicant’s SSDI Claim After His Death
An SSDI claim can be continued after an applicant’s death to collect the payments he should have received before his death. The SSA refers to this as “an underpayment.” Only certain family members are entitled to collect these benefits. Family members can pursue the applicant’s right to benefits in the following order of preference:
- Surviving spouse. A surviving spouse who was entitled to SSDI benefits or living with the applicant in the month of his death has the highest priority to collect the underpayment.
- Children. Children of the applicant who were entitled to SSDI benefits in the month of his death have second priority to collect the benefits he was entitled to.
- Parents. Parents who were entitled to SSDI benefits in the month of the applicant’s death can collect his benefits if he did not have a spouse or children.
If no family member qualified for the underpayment, the estate of the applicant may be able to recover the benefits.
When Do SSDI Payments Start and Stop?
There is a five-month waiting period after the date of the onset of the disability before an applicant would be entitled to SSDI benefits. The payment of SSDI benefits would not start until this time period expires in an underpayment case. The payments could continue until the date of the applicant’s death. In some cases, a spouse and dependent children may also be entitled to survivor benefits.
How to Proceed With a Family Member’s Application After His DeathIf your loved one died while his SSDI application was pending, you need to notify the SSA by filing his death certificate and other required SSA forms. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you file the required legal documents and fight for the benefits your family member deserved. He can also advise you on your right to survivor benefits. To find out how we can help, start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.