Expect a wait for death certificates
Please confirm and clarify information that I recently received from a medical examiner investigator regarding the death of a family member at home. The investigator informed me that it will take anywhere from two to four months before I receive a death certificate due to the state's problem with its computer system. The mortuary confirmed this and advised me to be patient. However, every organization, company and individual I contact (Social Security Administration, pension fund, banks, etc.) will not even acknowledge my mom's death unless I produce a certified death certificate. With all the concern over the state Judiciary's computer problems, is the Department of Health tied into the same system and problems? How does a family of a deceased loved one begin to settle the estate if a death certificate is not available in a timely manner?
Answer: You have since told us that you received your mother's death certificate, one month after her death.
On average, the Department of Health issues death certificates within 10 working days.
Since the new computer system for vital records began in January, no death certificate has taken four months to issue, said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
She cited "four isolated cases" in January and February, in which computer problems caused death certificates to take two months to be issued. But those problems have since been resolved, she said.
In cases involving the medical examiner, again "on average," it takes about 21 days from the day of death for a death certificate to be issued, Okubo said.
It could take longer if the medical examiner requires further investigation. "There have been isolated examples of extended delays for certificates due to the nature of the death," Okubo said.
Deaths involving homicide, suicide or "other special circumstances" might also result in delays.
As for the computer system, Okubo said there were a few "start-up problems," but operations have steadily improved.
The current average of 10 working days in which to issue a death certificate is expected to be reduced as the system matures, she said.
In some cases, depending on the circumstances, they have been issued in two to three working days, she said.
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