TN 98 (05-23)

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 examples of acceptable proofs of death:

  • a death certificate (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, RS 00210.005, and RS 00207.004.

NOTE: These reports are often referred to as "proven" death information.

C. First-party reports of death

A first-party death report is received from an acceptable reporter. The following are examples of first-party reporters:

  • representative payee or agent (e.g., physician, 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.

NOTE: These reports are often referred to as "verified" death information.

D. Third-party reports of death

A third-party death report is an event reported by someone other than a first party. The following are examples of third-party reporters:

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS),

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

  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or

  • a friend or neighbor

NOTE: These reports are often referred to as "alleged" death information.

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 to verify the death report.

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 their 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 themselves, 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 they 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 check for the month of death (and any later months) and to return the check, if appropriate. If the reporter cashed the check for the month of death (and any later months), do not ask for a refund. Advise the reporter that the Treasury Department (TD) may request the funds back from the bank that cashed the check for a period of up to 12 months from the month that SSA learns of the death. Do not accept a repayment agreement.

  • If the reporter asks if they should make a refund, or how to make a refund, advise the person that they must first inform the financial institution (FI) of the death as soon as possible. We will then debit any incorrect payments from the person’s account. The FI will return the payment to us as soon as they are informed of the death or upon the request of the TD via the Notice of Reclamation.

  • If the case meets the overpayment criteria in GN 02201.001, advise the reporter that there is an overpayment and that we will notify the overpaid person.

  • Initiate “Living in Same Household” (LISH) and “Child in Care” development if appropriate. For more information LISH, see RS 00210.035B and for conditions for Entitlement and Definitions, see RS 01310.001.


    Remember to develop leads for surviving (spouse and children) claims.

  • Check for multiple or dual entitlement.

  • Check eRPS to see if the decedent was a representative payee for another beneficiary.

G. References

GN 00304.000 Proof of Death

GN 02201.001 What is a Title II Overpayment

GN 02602.051 Processing Reports of Death Using the Death Information Processing System (DIPS)

GN 02602.065 Types of Death Alerts

GN 02602.070 Procedure for Resolving Death Alerts

RS 00210.035 LSDP for a Surviving Spouse Living in the Same Household (LISH)

RS 01310.001 Conditions for Entitlement and Definitions

RS 00210.005 Evidence Requirements for the Lump-Sum Death Payment (LSDP)

RS 00207.004 Widow(er)'s Benefits - Table of Proofs and Development - Policy

DIPS User Guide

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GN 02602.050 - Reports of Death - 05/05/2023
Batch run: 07/28/2023