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January 22, 2020

What Happens To My Disability Claim If I Pass Away?

What happens to my disability claim if I pass away?  A sad reality of many disability claims is that a person applying for disability benefits may pass away before their claim is resolved. A disability claim can sometimes take two years or more to resolve.  For claimants with severe medical conditions, they may not survive the wait. If your medical condition is documented as terminal, or you are expected to pass away soon, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may expedite your claim.  Sadly, not all of these claims are expedited.  Many of my clients ask me about what could happen to their claim if they pass away.  Some of my clients have passed away from an unexpected cause and not from the conditions they assert are disabling.  Different cases have different facts and must be pursued in a way that have the best chance of getting these past due benefits.  In claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your family may be entitled to benefits if they file a Substitution of Party claim. A Substitution of Party allows for one person in a priority list of family members to pursue past due benefits on behalf of the deceased. The following groups of people may become a Substituted Party: The spouse of the deceased Surviving children Surviving parents, or The legal representative of the estate of the deceased In order to become a Substituted Party, the SSA will need several tasks completed. A Form HA-539 must be completed and a copy of the claimant’s death certificate must be submitted to the SSA. Additionally, an attorney assisting the Substituted Party may need other documents to be signed to properly represent the claim. If a claimant has passed away while waiting for a hearing, the Substituted Party may be asked to appear … Continued

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February 23, 2017

Terminal Illness or TERI cases and Social Security Disability

One of the unfortunate realities of my job is that some of my clients are diagnosed as terminal. While being diagnosed with a terminal illness may seem like an obvious favorable decision for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make, that may not always be the case. Even with this diagnosis the SSA may need more information and can be slow in making a determination.  Hopefully your medical provider, family, and Social Security attorney or representative can gather the information to make it easier for the SSA to make the right decision quickly.   The Social Security Administration avoids the words “terminal illness” and instead calls these cases TERI cases. The SSA defines a TERI case as “a medical condition that is untreatable and expected to result in death.”  Once this type of designation exists, the SSA attempts to expedite the case in the early and later stages of processing.  The SSA has guidelines for identifying these cases and processing them in a particular way.   Getting a medical source statement from your treating physician can be very important. Not only a statement saying the individual is terminal, but also supporting medical evidence establishing a clear diagnosis.  Objective testing and progress notes should be submitted to the SSA to show the severity of the condition.  Many physicians are hesitant to make such statements until all medical avenues have been exhausted.  If you find yourself in this situation it may be in your best interest to let your physician know you are dealing with the Social Security Administration.   If you or a family member finds themselves in this situation, I urge you to contact the SSA as soon as possible to start this process. Qualified Social Security disability attorneys and representatives can also provide guidance on filling out paperwork and … Continued

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