TN 56 (12-15)

GN 02602.050 Reports of Death

A. Policy for accepting reports of death

SSA receives and processes reports of death from a variety of sources. Death information is used to terminate benefits of Title II beneficiaries and Title XVI recipients. Reports of death also alert us to pursue claims for benefits to surviving spouses and children. As part of the Death Processing Redesign effort, the Numident will become the agency’s official source of death information. As such, all death reports must be recorded on the Numident using the Death Information Processing System (DIPS). This system then automatically sends death information to the agency’s payment systems.

B. Proof of death

To terminate benefits, documented proof of death is not required; however, if the death of an individual results in the potential entitlement of another person, you must obtain a proof of death document that meets the requirements for payment of survivor benefits. The following documents are acceptable proofs of death:

  • a death certificate (D/C),

  • an SSA-704 (Certification of Contents of Records) in lieu of a D/C,

  • an SSA-721, or

  • a Numident record that shows death data based on an Electronic Death Registration (EDR) report.

For additional information on deaths that may affect entitlement to benefits, see GN 00304.000, Proof of Death.

C. First-party reports of death

A first-party death report from an acceptable reporter is an event reported by:

  • State Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS),

  • representative payee or agent (i.e., lawyer, accountant),

  • competent adult entitled on the same SSN, or

  • relative, e.g., a spouse, parent, or sibling, etc.

Do not verify first-party reports of death from acceptable reporters.

D. Third-party reports of death

A third-party death report is an event reported by someone other than a first party. Examples of third-party reports of death include:

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS),

  • State social service office (e.g., Welfare Office),

  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or

  • a friend or neighbor

Verification of third-party reports

We must verify reports of death for beneficiaries that are received from third- party sources before we can terminate benefits. For third-party reports of death that automatically generate a “Third-Party Verification” alert on the Death Alerts Tracking System (DATS), follow the steps in GN 02602.070, Procedure for Resolving Death Alerts & Exceptions to verify the death report.

Third-party reports of death that do not automatically generate an alert in DATS (such as a phone call from a friend or neighbor) must also be verified by following the steps in GN 02602.070C, Procedure for Resolving Death Alerts & Exceptions.

You may also receive requests from the Teleservice Center (TSC) via an Modernized Development Worksheet (MDW) to verify a report of death on a beneficiary received over the phone from a third party. Since third-party reports of death for beneficiaries need to be verified before posting the death, follow the steps in GN 02602.070C, Procedure for Resolving Death Alerts & Exceptions to verify the death and process the TSC request.

E. Reports of death for non-beneficiaries

You should accept and post death reports for non-beneficiaries without further verification. However, the reporter must supply the following pertinent information to establish his or her identity, as well as to establish the identity of the deceased before you can accept the report of death:

  • First and last name of the non-beneficiary,

  • Date of birth of the non-beneficiary

  • SSN of the non-beneficiary,

  • Date of death of the non-beneficiary,

  • the name, address, and phone number of the person making the report, and

  • the relationship of the reporter to the non-beneficiary.

Verify the non-beneficiary’s information in the Death Information Processing System (DIPS) before adding the death information into DIPS (See GN 02602.051, Processing Reports of Death Using the Death Information Processing System (DIPS) and the DIPS User Guide for instructions on using DIPS). Record the reporter’s information in EVID.

NOTE: If the reporter refuses to identify himself or herself, do not accept the report of death. If the reporter is unable to provide the required identifying information for the deceased, advise the reporter that if he or she can obtain the necessary information, we can accept the report of death. If the reporter does not provide, or is unable to provide the pertinent information, do not process the report.

F. Additional Actions

The following are possible additional actions you may need to take once you receive and process a report of death.

  • Advise the reporter not to cash the