20 CFR § 404.503 - Underpayments.

§ 404.503 Underpayments.

Underpayments will be adjusted as follows:

(a)Individual underpaid is living. If an individual to whom an underpayment is due is living, the amount of such underpayment will be paid to such individual either in a single payment (if he is not entitled to a monthly benefit or a lump-sum death payment) or by increasing one or more monthly benefits or a lump-sum death payment to which such individual is or becomes entitled. However, if we determine that the individual to whom an underpayment is due also received an overpayment as defined in § 404.501(a) for a different period, we will apply any underpayment due the individual to reduce that overpayment, unless we have waived recovery of the overpayment under the provisions of §§ 404.506 through 404.512.

(b)Individual dies before adjustment of underpayment. If an individual who has been underpaid dies before receiving payment or negotiating a check or checks representing such payment, we first apply any amounts due the deceased individual against any overpayments as defined in § 404.501(a) owed by the deceased individual, unless we have waived recovery of such overpayment under the provisions of §§ 404.506 through 404.512. We then will distribute any remaining underpayment to the living person (or persons) in the highest order of priority as follows:

(1) The deceased individual's surviving spouse as defined in section 216(c), (g), or (h) of the Act who was either:

(i) Living in the same household (as defined in § 404.347) with the deceased individual at the time of such individual's death, or

(ii) Entitled to a monthly benefit on the basis of the same earnings record as was the deceased individual for the month in which such individual died.

(2) The child or children of the deceased individual (as defined in section 216 (e) or (h) of the Act) entitled to a monthly benefit on the basis of the same earnings record as was the deceased individual for the month in which such individual died (if more than one such child, in equal shares to each such child).

(3) The parent or parents of the deceased individual, entitled to a monthly benefit on the basis of the same earnings record as was the deceased individual for the month in which such individual died (if more than one such parent, in equal shares to each such parent). For this purpose, the definition of “parent” in § 404.374 includes the parent(s) of any deceased individual who was entitled to benefits under title II of the Act.

(4) The surviving spouse of the deceased individual (as defined in section 216(c), (g), or (h) of the Act) who does not qualify under paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

(5) The child or children of the deceased individual (as defined in section 216 (e) or (h) of the Act) who do not qualify under paragraph (b)(2) of this section (if more than one such child, in equal shares to each such child).

(6) The parent or parents of the deceased individual, who do not qualify under paragraph (b)(3) of this section (if more than one such parent, in equal shares to each such parent). For this purpose, the definition of “parent” in § 404.374 includes the parent(s) of any deceased individual who was entitled to benefits under title II of the Act.

(7) The legal representative of the estate of the deceased individual as defined in paragraph (d) of this section.

(c) In the event that a person who is otherwise qualified to receive an underpayment under the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, dies before receiving payment or before negotiating the check or checks representing such payment, his share of the underpayment will be divided among the remaining living person(s) in the same order of priority. In the event that there is (are) no other such person(s), the underpayment will be paid to the living person(s) in the next lower order of priority under paragraph (b) of this section.

(d)Definition of legal representative. The term legal representative, for the purpose of qualifying to receive an underpayment, generally means the administrator or executor of the estate of the deceased individual. However, it may also include an individual, institution or organization acting on behalf of an unadministered estate, provided that such person can give the Administration good acquittance (as defined in paragraph (e) of this section). The following persons may qualify as legal representative for the purposes of this subpart, provided they can give the Administration good acquittance:

(1) A person who qualifies under a State's small estate statute,

(2) A person resident in a foreign country who, under the laws and customs of that country, has the right to receive assets of the estate,

(3) A public administrator, or

(4) A person who has the authority, under applicable law, to collect the assets of the estate of the deceased individual.

(e)Definition of “good acquittance.” A person is considered to give the Administration good acquittance when payment to that person will release the Administration from further liability for such payment.

[34 FR 14487, Sept. 27, 1969, as amended at 35 FR 14129, Sept. 5, 1970; 55 FR 7313, Mar. 1, 1990; 60 FR 17445, Apr. 6, 1995; 73 FR 65543, Nov. 4, 2008]