Disability benefits are offered through the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide financial assistance to those who are unable to work due to a disability or medical condition. If you are dependent on a worker who has died, there are certain options available to you to ensure that you receive the money you have relied on for medical bills and every day living expenses.
Lump Sum Death Payment
The SSA offers a lump sum death payment of $255. This is available for the spouse of the deceased worker who lived in the same household as the worker at the time of their death. It can also be awarded to the spouse if they had not been sharing a household if they met one of the following requirements during the month of the worker’s death:
- They had already been receiving benefits from the worker
- They became eligible for survivor’s benefits upon the worker’s death
If the surviving spouse is not eligible for the lump sum under these conditions, or if there is no surviving spouse, the money can be awarded to the worker’s children if they met one of the following criteria during the month of the worker’s death:
- They were already receiving benefits from the worker
- They became eligible for benefits when the worker passed away
To receive the lump sum death payment, the eligible spouse or child must apply for the benefit within two years of the worker’s death.
If the deceased worker was eligible for disability benefits but never applied for them, a family member can file a new claim under their behalf and receive back payments for the benefits. Depending on whether or not the deceased worker had contacted the SSA prior to their death, there are certain time frames to apply for back payments:
- If the deceased worker had contacted the SSA about disability benefits, the family member has six months, or sometimes more, to file a claim on their behalf.
- If the deceased worker never contacted the SSA, a family member has three months after the month of the worker’s death to file a claim.
The disability benefits will be paid for a “closed period” of benefits, meaning the time from the onset of the worker’s disability to the date of their death.
The deceased worker’s spouse, child, or a dependent divorced spouse or parent may be eligible for survivor’s benefits if they were financially dependent on the worker. Applying for these benefits is done in the name of the survivor, not the deceased worker. To apply, you must make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements for your relationship to the worker and then contact the SSA.
Getting Help with Benefits
You may want to consider hiring a disability benefits lawyer or advocate to help you with your claim, whether it be for a lump sum death benefit payment, back payments for a disability benefits claim, or survivor’s benefits. A lawyer can help you with your application, gather the necessary documentation, and help you appeal your claim if it is denied.