How to Recover Unclaimed Social Security Benefits After a Parent’s Passing

Norm Haug RSSA Staff


Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotionally draining experience. Amidst the grief, it’s essential to take care of practical matters, including any unclaimed Social Security benefits that your deceased parent may have left behind. Fortunately, there is a process in place to recover these unpaid benefits, providing certain conditions are met.

Claiming Unpaid Social Security Benefits: The Steps

If your parent or relative passed away before cashing all their Social Security benefit checks, you may be entitled to these unclaimed funds. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to claim these benefits:

1. Notify Social Security Administration (SSA): The first step is to inform the SSA of the recipient’s passing. This notification is crucial to initiate the process of recovering unpaid benefits. You can contact the SSA by phone or visit your local SSA office. In many cases, this notification has likely already been made by the family.

2. Provide Required Documentation: To proceed with the claim, you’ll need to provide certain documentation to the SSA to verify the death of the individual. This typically includes a death certificate and any other relevant information.

3. Complete Form SSA-1724: To file a claim for unpaid Social Security benefits on behalf of a deceased individual or eligible family members, you’ll generally need to complete Form SSA-1724, titled “Claim For Amounts Due In The Case Of Deceased Beneficiary.” This form is specifically designed for requesting payment of Social Security benefits that were due but not paid at the time of the individual’s death. Here are the basic steps to complete and file Form SSA-1724:

  • Obtain the Form: You can typically obtain Form SSA-1724 from the official Social Security Administration website ( or by visiting your local SSA office.
  • Read the Instructions: Before filling out the form, carefully read the instructions provided with it to ensure you provide all the required information and documentation.
  • Provide Personal Information: Fill in the personal information of the deceased individual and any eligible family members who may be entitled to the unpaid benefits.
  • Provide Proof of Death: You will likely need to provide proof of the individual’s death, such as a copy of the death certificate. Make sure to include this documentation with the form.
  • Submit the Form: Once the form is complete and all required documentation is attached, you can submit it to the Social Security Administration. You can do this by mailing the form and documents to your local SSA office or by visiting the office in person.

4. Follow Up: After submitting the form, it’s advisable to follow up with the SSA to ensure that your claim is being processed and to address any additional information they may require.

Determining Eligibility

The SSA will evaluate the claim to determine if any unpaid benefits are due to the deceased individual and whether any family members are eligible to receive those benefits. Eligible family members may include a surviving spouse, dependent children, or, in some cases, dependent parents. If the claim is approved, the unpaid Social Security benefits can be disbursed to the eligible family members.

Time Limit for Recovery

It’s crucial to be aware that the SSA generally has a time limit for recovering unpaid Social Security benefits after the recipient’s death. As of the last update in September 2021, the SSA allows for a retroactive payment of up to six months of Social Security benefits that were due but not paid at the time of the individual’s death. This means that if your parent passed away and did not cash Social Security checks for up to six months before their death, those unpaid benefits may be recoverable by eligible family members. Benefits beyond this six-month period may not be paid.

Resources for More Information

For additional guidance and detailed information on underpayments and recovering unpaid Social Security benefits, you can refer to the Social Security Program Operations Manual System (POMS) in section GN 0201.000 – “Policy and Disposition of Underpayments.” You can access this section by visiting the following link: POMS Section GN 0201.000.

For complex cases or legal advice, it’s recommended to consult with an attorney specializing in Social Security law who can provide further assistance and ensure that you navigate the process effectively.

By following the steps outlined here and seeking appropriate guidance, you can ensure that your family receives the benefits to which they may be entitled.


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