SSR 63-16: SECTION 202(p). -- PARENT'S INSURANCE BENEFITS -- GOOD CAUSE FOR FAILURE TO FILE PROOF OF SUPPORT WITHIN 2-YEAR PERIOD AFTER WORKER'S DEATH

20 CFR 404.617(a)

SSR 63-16

A worker died in March 2959. In Mary 1962, upon learning of her possible eligibility, his mother filed application for parent's insurance benefits on the worker's earnings record and filed proof that she had been receiving at least one-half of her support from the worker at the time of his death. For several years she had been suffering from physical and mental infirmity such that she could not be expected to know, and take necessary action to protect, her rights to social security benefits. Held, there was good cause for the claimant's failure to file proof of support within 2 years after the date of the worker's death. Therefore, the proof, since actually filed within 2 years after that 2-year period, may be deemed to have been filed within that period, as required for entitlement to parent's insurance benefits.

S, a fully insured worker, died March 13, 1959. In May 1962 his mother, M, age 85, filed application for parent's insurance benefits and submitted evidence which established that she was dependent on S for at least one-half of her support at the time of his death.

M submitted further evidence which shows that for the past 8 years she had been suffering from hypertension and a condition bordering on senility, and from general physical infirmity attendant upon her advanced age. She lived alone, and did not realize that she might be eligible for parent's insurance benefits until told so by a friend in April 1962, shortly before she filed application. Upon being formed that she must file proof of support, she furnished such proof promptly.

The requirements for entitlement to parent's insurance benefits are set forth in section 202(h) of the Act. Among these requirements, section 202(h)(1)(B) provides, in effect, that the parent must have been receiving at least one-half of his support from the worker at the time the worker died, and have filed proof of such support within 2 years thereafter; or, as an alternative applicable only where the worker had established a period of disability continuing to the month in which he died, the parent must have been receiving such support when the period of disability began, and have filed proof of such support within 2 years after the month in which the worker filed application to establish that period of disability.

However, under section 202(p) of the Act, where there is a showing of good cause for failure to file proof of support within the 2-year period specified in section 202(h)(1)(B), such proof shall be deemed to have been filed within such period if it is filed within 2 years following such period.

S had never established a period of disability. Accordingly, his mother, M, must have been receiving at least one-half of her support from S at the time of his death, March 13, 1959 -- a requirement which she met. Also, she must, under section 202(h)(1)(B), have filed proof of such support within 2 years after that date, i.e., by March 13, 1961. If there was good cause shown for her failure to file proof by March 13, 1961, and the proof was filed no later than March 13, 1963, under section 202(p) it will be deemed to have been filed timely. Proof of support was actually filed in May 1962. Thus, M's entitlement to the benefits claimed depends upon whether there was good cause for her failure to file proof of support on or before March 13, 1961, i.e., within the initial 2-year period. She met all other requirements for entitlement to benefits.

Regulations No. 4, ยง 404.617(a) sets forth the various situations under which good cause may be found for failure to file proof of support within the required 2-year period. Among these situations are:

(1) Circumstances beyond the individual's control, such as extended illness, mental or physical incapacity, or communication difficulties; or

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(4) Unusual or unavoidable circumstances, the nature of which demonstrate that the individual could not reasonably be expected to have been aware of the need to file timely the proof of support * * *.

In the present case, M has been suffering from extended illness for a number of years, including the years in question here. Also, her advanced age, mental and physical infirmity, and her isolation are circumstances beyond her control; she was not aware of her rights to social security benefits, and could not reasonably be expected to have been aware of these rights and of the need to file timely the proof of support necessary to protect or perfect these rights.

Accordingly, it is held that there was good cause for M's failure to file proof of support within 2 years after S's death. Therefore, since she filed the proof of support within 2 years after such period, it is deemed to have been filed timely, and she is entitled to the parent's insurance benefits for which she applied.


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