Social Security Disability after the claimant has died?
Part of being eligible for Social Security Disability is a person must have an impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months, or can be expected to result in death. Unfortunately, as a Social Security Disability attorney, I have had clients pass away while waiting for a hearing. As strange as it sounds, even though a person may have died, it does not automatically mean they (or their estate) will be awarded Social Security Disability benefits.
Likely the first thing that will be done after a claimant has died is submitting a death certificate and a Substitution of Party. The substitution of party is oftentimes a spouse that will stand in for the deceased claimant. Social Security will then determine whether the individual was disabled before they passed away. One consideration may be whether the individual died from their disability or from other causes. For example, if a claimant was claiming disability due to back pain, then died in a car accident, the fact that they died does not necessarily prove that they were disabled prior to their death.
It is a grim prospect that can seem counter-intuitive, especially to the family of a loved one. A Social Security Disability attorney with experience in this matter can help explain the reason Social Security has certain rules in place and help navigate through specific processes.