The process to get approved for Social Security disability benefits in Houston is a long and complicated process. It’s estimated that over a million Americans are waiting for a decision to see if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits at any given time, with the average wait time being 2 years.
Unfortunately, for some applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), the process takes too long and they pass away before a decision is reached. This includes more than 110,000 people between fiscal 2008 and 2019.
So, what happens to a Social Security disability claim when the claimant dies before a decision is reached?
The Death Of The Claimant Does Not Mark The End Of The SSDI Claim
A claim for SSDI benefits does not necessarily end with the death of the claimant. Surviving family members and other beneficiaries can continue an open claim after the death of a claimant.
Not only that, but the surviving family members of a person who was eligible but did not apply to receive SSDI benefits can file a new disability on behalf of their deceased relative for back payments of disability benefits. However, there is only a limited time period in which a family member or other beneficiary can file a claim for a deceased person.
Pursuing An Existing SSDI Claim And Filing A New Claim On Behalf Of A Deceased Relative
To pursue a pending Social Security disability claim if the claimant dies before a decision, you must first report the deceased person’s death to the SSA and then submit form HA-539, the “Notice Regarding Substitution of Party Upon Death of Claimant” (Form HA-539) informing the SSA that you wish to continue the deceased’s claim for disability benefits.
You will be required to provide medical evidence and other relevant information, such as a death certificate and work history so the SSA can determine whether the deceased person was eligible to receive disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration usually informs a listed beneficiary if there is an open claim to which they may be entitled to collect the benefits.
Filing A New Social Security Disability Claim On Behalf Of The Deceased
To file a new claim, you must first contact the SSA and inform them you wish to file for SSDI benefits on behalf of a deceased person. You only have three months in which to do so.
If the deceased only contacted the SSA but was unable to submit a claim before they died, you may have up to six months from the time of death to submit a disabilities claim.
Keep in mind that there is a waiting period to qualify for benefits; a claimant is not eligible to receive SSDI payments until they have been disabled for five months. If the SSA determines that the claimant’s disability happened five or less months before their death then the claim will probably be denied.
Get Help From A Board-Certified Social Security Disability Attorney
Having a board-certified Social Security disability attorney represent your interests when appealing a denial of benefits after your loved one’s death can make a big impact on the outcome of your case. The appeal process is a complicated one; an experienced Social Security disability benefits lawyer will be able to help with providing the Social Security Administration with the crucial documentation, evidence and testimony they need to make a decision in your favor.
Board-certified Houston Social Security lawyer M. Stanley Whitehead has represented clients in Social Security disability claims in Houston and all across the nation. He has the knowledge and experience needed to successfully handle cases through all stages of appeal.
If you need help appealing a denial of SSDI benefits for yourself or on behalf of a deceased loved one, call the Law Offices of M. Stanley Whitehead at (713) 993-7311 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our SSDI benefits attorneys. In many instances, we may be able to accept your case on a contingency basis, which means there are no up-front costs and you only pay our fees after we secure your benefits.