§ 416.542. Underpayments—to whom underpaid amount is payable.

(a) Underpaid recipient alive—underpayment payable. (1) If an underpaid recipient is alive, the amount of any underpayment due him or her will be paid to him or her in a separate payment or by increasing the amount of his or her monthly payment. If the underpaid amount meets the formula in § 416.545 and one of the exceptions does not apply, the amount of any past-due benefits will be paid in installments.

(2) If an underpaid recipient whose drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability (as described in § 416.935) is alive, the amount of any underpayment due the recipient will be paid through his or her representative payee in installment payments. No underpayment may be paid directly to the recipient. If the recipient dies before we have paid all benefits due through his or her representative payee, we will follow the rules which apply to underpayments for the payment of any remaining amounts due to any eligible survivor of a deceased recipient as described in paragraph (b) of this section.

(3) If an underpaid individual under age 18 is alive and has a representative payee and is due past-due benefits which meet the formula in § 416.546, SSA will pay the past-due benefits into the dedicated account described in § 416.640(e). If the underpaid individual dies before the benefits have been deposited into the account, we will follow the rules which apply to underpayments for the payment of any unpaid amount due to any eligible survivor of a deceased individual as described in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Underpaid recipient deceased—underpaid amount payable to survivor. (1) If a recipient dies before we have paid all benefits due or before the recipient endorses the check for the correct payment, we may pay the amount due to the deceased recipient's surviving eligible spouse or to his or her surviving spouse who was living with the underpaid recipient within the meaning of section 202(i) of the Act (see § 404.347) in the month he or she died or within 6 months immediately preceding the month of death.

(2) If the deceased underpaid recipient was a disabled or blind child when the underpayment occurred, the underpaid amount may be paid to the natural or adoptive parent(s) of the underpaid recipient who lived with the underpaid recipient in the month he or she died or within the 6 months preceding death. We consider the underpaid recipient to have been living with the natural or adoptive parent(s) in the period if the underpaid recipient satisfies the “living with” criteria we use when applying § 416.1165 or would have satisfied the criteria had his or her death not precluded the application of such criteria throughout a month.

(3) If the deceased individual was living with his or her spouse within the meaning of section 202(i) of the Act in the month of death or within 6 months immediately preceding the month of death, and was also living with his or her natural or adoptive parent(s) in the month of death or within 6 months preceding the month of death, we will pay the parent(s) any SSI underpayment due the deceased individual for months he or she was a blind or disabled child and we will pay the spouse any SSI underpayment due the deceased individual for months he or she no longer met the definition of “child” as set forth at § 416.1856. If no parent(s) can be paid in such cases due to death or other reason, then we will pay the SSI underpayment due the deceased individual for months he or she was a blind or disabled child to the spouse.

(4) No benefits may be paid to the estate of any underpaid recipient, the estate of the surviving spouse, the estate of a parent, or to any survivor other than those listed in paragraph (b) (1) through (3) of this section. Payment of an underpaid amount to an ineligible spouse or surviving parent(s) may only be made for benefits payable for months after May 1986. Payment to surviving parent(s) may be made only for months of eligibility during which the deceased underpaid recipient was a child. We will not pay benefits to a survivor other than the eligible spouse who requests payment of an underpaid amount more than 24 months after the month of the individual's death.

(c) Underpaid recipient's death caused by an intentional act. No benefits due the deceased individual may be paid to a survivor found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction of intentionally causing the underpaid recipient's death.

[40 FR 47763, Oct. 10, 1975, as amended at 58 FR 52913, Oct. 13, 1993; 60 FR 8149, Feb. 10, 1995; 61 FR 67206, Dec. 20, 1996]