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Unpaid Amounts Owed to a Deceased Person

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

1902. Unpaid Amounts Owed to a Deceased Person

1902.1 Is a written request required to obtain payments owed to a deceased person?

We pay unpaid amounts owed to a deceased person automatically without a separate written request if our records contain sufficient information to determine the identity and current address of all people entitled to the underpayment.

1902.2 If complete information is not available on all those entitled to the underpayment, what should be done?

If complete information is not available, we need a separate written request from at least one person entitled to receive a portion of the underpayment.

1902.3 What is the order of payment for people entitled to the underpayment for retirement, survivors, and disability insurance (RSDI)?

Payments are made in the following order:

  1. The widow(er) of the underpaid person if:

    1. Living in the same household with the underpaid person at the time of death; or

    2. Entitled to a monthly benefit on the same earnings record as the underpaid person for the month of death.

  2. The child or children of the underpaid person entitled to monthly benefits on the same earnings record as the underpaid person for the month of death. If there is more than one entitled child, payment is made in equal parts to each child;

  3. The parent or parents of the underpaid person entitled to monthly benefits on the same earnings record as the underpaid person for the month of death. If there is more than one entitled parent, payment is made in equal parts to each parent;

  4. A widow(er) who does not meet the requirements of (A);

  5. A child or children who do not meet the requirements of (B). If there is more than one child, payment is made in equal parts to each child;

  6. A parent or parents who do not meet the requirements of (C). If there is more than one parent, payment is made in equal parts to each parent; and

  7. The legal representative of the underpaid person's estate.

A surviving divorced spouse does not qualify as the "widow(er)" under this provision.

1902.4 How are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments made?

We pay Supplemental Security Income (SSI) underpayments to a surviving eligible spouse or surviving spouse who was living in the same household with the underpaid person at any time in the month of death or the preceding six months.

1902.5 How are payments made for a disabled or blind child?

If the underpaid person was a disabled or blind child, underpayments are payable to a surviving parent(s) who was living in the same household with the child at any time in the month of death or the preceding six months.

Last Revised: Nov. 5, 2003


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