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Good Cause Defined

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1519. Good Cause Defined

1519.1 What does "good cause" mean?

"Good cause" means that you did not file the lump-sum death payment application within the time limit because of:

  1. Circumstances beyond your control, such as extended illness, communication difficulties, etc.;

  2. Incorrect or incomplete information given to you by us;

  3. Your efforts to get the evidence to support the claim, not realizing you could file the application within the time limit and submit the supporting evidence later; or

  4. Unusual or unavoidable circumstances that show that you could not reasonably be expected to have been aware of the need to file the application within a specified period.

1519.2 When is good cause NOT established?

Good cause is not established if:

  1. You were informed that an application for the lump-sum death payment had to be filed within the initial two-year period; and

  2. You did not file the application because of neglect, or because you did not then want to claim the lump-sum death payment.

Last Revised: March, 2001



There are 2 Comments

I just heard from a friend who lost his wife that I should of filed a claim for a SS one time benefit when my husband passed away in 2004. I believe I spoke with Social Services and they may have mentioned I could file for a one time benefit of $255.00 In my grief I thought it meant if I accepted it that would be all I would get in benefits for the rest of my life, so I did not pursue the situation. In the time frame of 04/05 I had buried first my father second my husband a brother in law, and my mother, lost my job and our family owned business, I was not thinking clearly. I recently visited an office in my neighborhood and your worker just flat looked at me with no sympathy and said the 2 year limit is the law not to stress it is only "$255.00 I did not qualify", with tears I walked out a bit upset. Anyway your phone operators seemed to be much more in tune with my situation and encourage me to follow up on receiving my death benefit. That's when I decided to visit the local office.

Yes, based on the above definition of "good cause", it would seem that your case may meet the definition. I would recommend citing this section in the Social Security Handbook during any appeal.


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