Once a loved one dies, a family is not only consumed with grief, they must also deal with many practical financial matters, especially if one spouse is still alive. If one spouse passes away leaving a surviving spouse, there are numerous financial changes that could have major repercussions for the entire family. Perhaps most important are the continuation or ending of certain types of benefits. Being aware of whether or not disability benefits continue after a person has passed away and which end can play a crucial role in how the estate and probate are ultimately handled.  

Approved Benefits

In most cases, your loved one will already be receiving benefits. This means that they applied for disability, were approved, and were receiving income from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It may be possible to continue receiving monthly payments if you are a qualifying family member. You may also be eligible to receive a small, lump-sum payment from the SSA. The lump sum might be small, but it is in addition to any monthly payments you expect to receive on a recurring basis.

Benefits That are Not Approved

Occasionally a loved one will pass away before receiving final approval regarding an SSA disability application. When this happens it is sometimes still possible to receive benefits on behalf of your loved one. If you are 62 years old or older or taking care of children younger than 16 who belonged to the loved one who passed away, you can continue their claim. When the claim is approved, you will be able to receive monthly payments along with any back pay to which your loved one would have been entitled.

Who is Entitled?

Just like any form of inheritance, there is an order of precedence when it comes to who can receive benefits on behalf of one who has passed away. Not everyone who is related to your loved one qualifies, and there are certain requirements that must be met. Those people who qualify, in order, are:

  • Any surviving minor children;;
  • Surviving legal spouse;
  • Adult children;
  • Parents;
  • Legal representatives of the deceased’s estate.

All individuals must meet SSA requirements regarding income and residence. Allowing others to inherit these benefits especially helps spouses and children who were financially dependent on their loved one’s social security disability income. Its presence can have a large impact on the standard of living of a family.

Contact an Attorney

Disability is not the only type of benefit income that you and your family should be concerned about securing after a loved one passes away. Certain retirement and military pensions may also be transferable based on your unique circumstances. The compassionate attorneys at MMZ Law are dedicated to helping you and your family.

Our lawyers work with you to determine what type of transferable benefits your loved one had.  We will take the guesswork out of the process by working to determine who qualifies to receive benefits and ensure the rest of the estate is handled properly. Contact our office to set up an appointment so that we can begin discussing your legal needs.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.