DI 23510.005 Notice of Death Received in the Field Office (FO) – Title II and Title XVI
The FO action in case of the claimant's death depends on the status of the case.
A. FO actions prior to transfer
The field office (FO) determines the precise cause of death from the death certificate or from any official source, e.g., the local registrar or Office of Vital Statistics, before forwarding the case to the disability determination services (DDS). The FO obtains proof of death prior to sending the case to the DDS, and includes this information in the file. The FO is also responsible for obtaining signed SSA-827s from the deceased claimant’s administrator, or other person with authority to act on behalf of the deceased individual or of the individual's estate.
NOTE: If, under applicable law, an executor, administrator, or other person has authority to act on behalf of a deceased individual or of the individual's estate (e.g., proper applicant), a description of the representative authority to act for the individual must be provided on the authorization form.
B. Case pending in DDS
The FO notifies the DDS of the claimant's death, but does not develop the cause of death unless instructed to do so. The DDS develops the cause of death prior to adjudication unless an allowance is indicated based on the evidence already in file. If the DDS needs a death certificate, ask for FO assistance to obtain it. The DDS may also request the FO’s assistance in obtaining signed SSA-827s from the deceased claimant’s administrator, executor, or trustee.
1. Title II cases
When notified of the claimant's death, the FO contacts the DDS via telephone, email, or other electronic means. The FO provides any information obtained relating to the claimant's death. See, DI 81010.095 Using the Update-After-Transfer (UAT) Utility; and DI 81005.040 Alerts & Messages Tab.
The DDS ensures the case folder is documented by completing a Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact). For electronic disability insurance benefit (eDib) cases, see DI 81010.095 Using Update After Transfer. The DDS considers the information in the folder, and any additional information provided by the FO, to determine if the possibility of an earlier onset exists. If an earlier onset cannot be established, the DDS prepares an abbreviated Form SSA-831 (Disability Determination and Transmittal) and returns the folder to the FO. See DI 23510.020 Death after Filing – Title II or DI 23510.025 Death Prior to Filing – Title II.
For those situations where an earlier onset will be developed, the claim is DDS jurisdiction.
2. Title XVI cases
If the case is already in the DDS when the FO receives notification of the claimant's death, the FO advises the DDS of the claimant's death and indicates whether a disability determination is necessary. Refer to DI 23510.035 Death after Filing – Title XVI. For eDib cases, see DI 81010.095 Using Update After Transfer.
C. Notice of death within 12 months after a denial or cessation
When an individual dies within one year of the initial denial or cessation notice, and an allowance would increase survivor’s benefits, the processing center sends the file to the DDS for reexamination whenever the evidence concerning the claimant's death may justify review of the determination.