Friday, April 17, 2009


Posted by Matthew Garretson

We need to know the answer to the following questions:

In a wrongful death case, where minor children of the decedent have collected social security benefits since the death, does the federal government have subrogation rights to this money?
If there is subrogation on the past benefits paid, what it the best way to contact the federal government and work out a settlement on the repayment?

If there is subrogation on the past benefits paid, if the minors collect a large sum of money (after paying back the past subrogation), will it affect the payment of social security benefits going forward in the future?

-Texas Attorney

Happy to help… There is no subrogation right to Social Security survivor's benefits (these benefits are paid as an “entitlement” due to a decedent's work history).

Going forward the receipt of assets will not affect these Social Security survivor benefits.
“Countable” assets (in excess of $2,000) only affect Social Security Income (“SSI”) which is a benefit for blind, aged or disabled people who have little or no income (and usually accompanies Medicaid). However, Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security Survivor’s benefits are entitlement benefits that a worker has, in effect, paid for through contributed funds via FICA (the stuff coming out of the paychecks each month).

Hope that helps. We have an educational package we often send to claimants that addresses these issues. Please let me know if you’re interested.