H, a fully insured worker 67 years old, was ill in a hospital when his wife inquired at a Social Security Administration district office as to how he could become entitled to old-age insurance benefits. On the basis of information she gave, an Administration representative told her it appeared that H could probably qualify for old-age insurance benefits; and that in order to become entitled to such benefits H must file application.
The representative offered to take an application form to the hospital where he could help H complete and execute the form; the application would subsequently be adjudicated and H would be sent notice of the determination. However, the wife preferred to take the form to H herself; she said that after H had completed it she would mail it to the office. H executed the application the following day and died 4 days later. Two days after H's death his wife mailed the application to the Administration together with notice of his death. The administration received her letter the day after it was mailed. She subsequently filed application on H's earnings record, and became entitled to a lump-sum death payment and to window's insurance benefits beginning with the month in which H died.
Section 202(a) of the Act provides, as pertinent here, that a person is entitled to old-age insurance benefits if he is fully insured, has attained age 62, and "has filed application for old-age insurance benefits or was entitled to disability insurance benefits for the month preceding the month in which he attained the age of 65," H had never been entitled to disability insurance benefits.
The question in this case is whether H "filed application for the old-age insurance benefits" where he executed an application, and gave it to his wife, who mailed it to the Administration after his death. If he did file the necessary application, he became entitled to old-age insurance benefits for 12 months, terminating with the month before the month in which he died. An underpayment of 12 months' benefits would then arise, and this underpayment (since H is dead) would be payable to his widow as the sole person subsequently entitled to benefits on H's earnings record. However, if he did not file the necessary application as required by section 202(a), he did not become entitled to benefits and there is no underpayment.
Regulations No. 4, § 404.608 provides, in pertinent part, that an application is considered to have been filed as of the date the application is received at an office of the Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance or by an employee of the Social Security Administration who is authorized to receive applications at a place other than such an office. When an application is deposited in and transmitted to the Administration by the United States mail, the application will be considered to have been received on the date of mailing rather than the delivery date, if such treatment will prevent loss or impairment of benefit rights.
Under the regulation above, whether the date of mailing or the date of delivery is considered to have been the date of filing, the application was filed after the death of the worker. The application was not filed by H, but was filed by his wife after his death. An application for benefits may be filed by (or on behalf of) an individual only while he is alive. Coy v. Folsom, 228 F.2d 276 (3d Cir. 1955) and Regulations No. 4, § 404.605.
Accordingly, it is held that H has not "filed application for old-age insurance benefits," did not meet the requirements of section 202(a), and did not become entitled to old-age insurance benefits.
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