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Social Security Disability Benefits for Surviving Spouses

If your spouse was able to secure Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you know he was able to overcome perhaps one of the greatest obstacles of all time, as the process is rigorous, time-consuming and difficult. selfportrait2.jpg

But our Boston SSDI attorneys understand that it doesn’t always end there. Many widows and widowers of deceased disability benefits recipients are more frequently having to cope with the question of whether they can continue to receive those payments now that their spouse is gone.

The answer is: It depends.

You would do well to contact an experienced SSDI attorney to help you handle your request for continued benefits, as it will depend on a number of factors. Plus, we understand that in the wake of the loss of your spouse, this is really not something you want to have to worry about. Still, it’s an important consideration because it affects your ability to be able to pay off your bills and, in some cases, support your children.

When an SSDI recipient passes away, his benefits may go to his dependents. This includes his spouse, children and sometimes even his elderly parents.

The criteria for being able to collect SSDI benefits as a surviving spouse are:

  • You are responsible for the care of the SSDI recipients’ dependent child under 16. This would make you eligible for 75 percent of your spouse’s benefits.
  • You are at least 50 years-old and you are disabled and that disability began either before your spouse died or within seven years of your spouse’s death. In this case you will receive about 70 percent of your departed spouse’s benefits.
  • You are a minimum of 60, but you haven’t yet reached retirement age. In these cases, you may be eligible for between 70 and 99 percent of your spouse’s benefits.
  • You are of full retirement age. In this case, you may expect to receive100 percent of your spouse’s SSDI benefits.

However, nothing with government is ever straightforward. As such, there are important exceptions that could impact your eligibility.

To begin, if you have remarried before you turned 60 years-old, you won’t be able to receive your deceased spouse’s benefits. However, if you get married again after age 60 (or after age 50, yet you yourself are disabled) your benefits won’t be affected.

Secondly, if you are entitled to your own retirement benefits, you will be allowed to choose between that and your former spouse’s SSDI benefits – whichever one happens to be more.

Also, widow benefits for those under 50 who had been receiving the benefits due to care of a minor child will usually find those benefits cut off by the time the child turns 16. The exception would be if the child is disabled as well.

You’ll want to consider as well that if you are working, your SSDI survivor benefits are probably going to be reduced, but it will largely depend on how old you are and how much you earn.

And finally, in order to be eligible to receive these benefits, the government usually requires that your marriage have lasted for a minimum of nine months. There have however been exceptions made in cases where a person died a violent or unexpected death, such as in a car accident.

If you have questions about SSDI survivor benefits in Boston, contact us for a confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Disability Planner: Benefits For Your Spouse, Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration
More Blog Entries:
Chronic Heart Failure Grounds for SSDI Benefits in Massachusetts, Feb. 15, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog