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Spouse died 1998. I, like most, had no knowledge about the...

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Question by CJ
Submitted on 2/16/2004
Related FAQ: Social Security Number FAQ
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Spouse died 1998.  I, like most, had no knowledge about the existence of children and Social Security (SS) spouse survivor benefits.  When I learned about the benefits, I applied for them in Jan 2004 and was approved. I was told by the SS representative that if they receive notice of death, they make a reasonable attempt to locate and notify survivors about possible benefits.  The representative said they received no notice whatsoever regarding my spouse's death until I provided notice in Jan 2004.  The benefits I received then were allowed to only go back six months retroactively.  I later discovered, however, that the funeral home had in fact sent a notice of my spouse's death to SS on the day following the spouse's death, (and have proof of doing so). SS, however, lost the notice and thus made no effort to contact my spouse's survivors regarding possible benefits. If I had been contacted by SS immediately after my spouse's death about benefits, (which I would have been if SS had not lost the death notice), I would have immediately filed for the benefits. Because SS lost the notice of my spouse's death sent to them, I was not advised of possible benefits as I normally would have if they had not lost the notice. In effect, nearly five years of justly due benefits are denied because of a SS error. It seems I have been denied a standard process provided all others, and thus prevented from receiving benefits I would under all normal circumstances have applied for at the time of my spouse's death, and thereupon received.  Do I have a just reason for filing an appeal, and equally important, does my case stand any reasonable likelihood of winning.


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