Losing a spouse can be an overwhelming time in many different ways. If your spouse was receiving Social Security disability benefits, it is likely that you and your family were relying on that monthly income to help support essential needs and monthly expenses. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has programs specifically intended for individuals who may face that situation. Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates provide an overview of the benefits you may be able to receive if you are the widow or widower of someone who received Social Security disability benefits.

Overview of Benefits for Surviving Spouses

Assuming your spouse was “currently insured” when they passed away, meaning they earned six or more work credits during the previous 13 quarters before passing away, you may be eligible to receive what are known as Widow/Widower’s Benefits. There are several different ways to be eligible for these Widow(er)’s Benefits, and each eligibility type will affect the total monthly amount you are entitled to.

If you are at least 60 years old but have not reached the full retirement age, you are able to receive between 71.5% – 99% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefits. However, if you have reached full retirement age, you will receive 100% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefits. Finally, you are eligible for 75% of your deceased spouse’s benefits if you currently care for a child under the age of 16 who receives survivors’ benefits from the deceased.

It is important to keep in mind that—while you can continue to work and still collect Widow(er)’s Benefits—there are income limits that affect your eligibility. If you are not going to reach full retirement age within the year, you can only earn up to the annual limit, which in 2018 is $17,040, before it starts to impact your benefits. In this situation, Social Security will reduce your benefit payment by half of the amount you earn over the annual limit. If you are going to reach full retirement age within the year, your benefit will be reduced by one-third of the amount you earn over the annual limit. Be sure to consult the SSA’s Benefits Planner for more information on income limits, retirement age and more.

Benefits for Surviving Spouses Living with a Disability

Similar to traditional Widow(er)’s Benefits, Social Security has a program for those who have lost a spouse receiving SSDI and are currently living with a disability. If you are living with a disability when your spouse passes away, you are eligible to receive their benefits in the form of Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits so long as you are over the age of 50 and have a medically proven physical or mental condition which prevents you from gaining employment and is expected to last at least one year.

In addition, you must prove your relationship to the deceased and have a disability that qualifies under Social Security. Keep in mind that entitlement for cash benefits—approximately 71.5% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit—is subject to a waiting period of five months and will vary depending on the date of filing. For more information, to complete a disability report or to file an application, visit the SSA’s guide on requirements for Disabled Widow(er)’s benefits.

The Attorneys at Disability Associates are Here to Help

Social Security guidelines for receiving benefits are often very specific and confusing, especially when dealing with Widow(er)’s and Disabled Widow(er)’s benefits. If you have recently lost a spouse that received SSDI benefits, there is no question that ensuring your family’s financial security is imperative. Disability Associates works exclusively with Social Security disability claims, including Survivors’ and Widow(er)’s benefits and understands how important it is that you regain the income you are entitled to. To discuss your situation with a disability advocate today, contact us to get started.