What to Do When a Family Member on Disability Passes Away?

The loss of a family member is never an easy thing to go through. While we must tend to our emotional affairs there are also legal affairs that must be looked after as well. There is quite a bit of red tape to go through when a person passes away. If certain steps aren’t taken and certain parties aren’t notified of the family member’s passing, you may find yourself in trouble in the midst of your grief.

If your immediate family member passes away and was collecting Social Security Disability benefits, you must notify the SSA of the family member’s death so that you may collect the one-time death benefit and the continuing disability payments stop. If you do not notify the SSA, the deceased will continue to receive Social Security Disability benefits and this can put you or other family members at risk of being accused of Social Security Disability fraud.

In some cases, if an immediate family member dies, while the deceased’s benefits will stop, family members such as a spouse or dependent children may qualify for survivor benefits. The only way to know for sure if you or your family members will qualify for these benefits is to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA), notifying them of the death, and inquire about any potential survivor’s benefits that you may be entitled to.

Who to Call and What to Say

In order to report the death of a family member to the SSA you will need to either visit your local Social Security office or call the toll-free help line at 1-800-772-1213. The representatives at the hotline will be able to help you report the death of your loved one.

In addition to notifying the SSA, you should also notify the financial institution that your family member banked with. You will want to tell the bank to return any SSDI funds received for the month of the death or any months thereafter to the SSA. This will prevent you from receiving an overpayment and/or possibly being charged with Social Security Disability fraud.

If your loved one received paper checks and not direct deposits into his or her banking account make sure you do not cash any checks received after the death and that you promptly return the checks to the SSA. If you cash the checks after the death, you run the risk of being charged with fraud.

While it is never easy to tend to legal affairs and financial matters after the death of a loved one, it is imperative that you notify the proper parties after a family member who is receiving SSDI benefits passes away. This not only ensures that you are given any benefits that you may be entitled to, but also protects you from potentially committing any unintended fraud.