Are you disabled and recently lost a spouse? “Survivor’s benefits” may help

You may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits through a spouse or ex-spouse who recently passed away.

Social Security benefits can provide a lifeline to individuals and families struggling with a disability. If you suffer from a disability which prevents you from finding employment, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits, provided you understand the process and meet eligibility requirements. Mistakes when applying are easy to make. Inadequate documentation, missed deadlines, and incorrectly filed forms can lead to rejections and months or years of delays. With disability benefits often the only income keeping people out of poverty, there is a lot on the line.

This is particularly true if you are disabled and recently lost a loved one who provided much of the household income. The Social Security Administration allows disabled individuals to qualify for benefits based on the work record of a spouse or qualifying family member, but the process and eligibility requirements can be complex. Below are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about survivor's benefits to give you an overview of when they are appropriate.

What are SSDI survivor's benefits?

Not everyone automatically qualifies for Social Security; you must have worked a certain number of hours in order to be eligible. In addition, benefits end upon the death of the person receiving benefits, even if that person's benefits are supporting a family.

For spouses and parents who stayed home to care for the family and find themselves without any income, there may not be enough of a work record to qualify. Fortunately, the SSA recognizes that caring for the home is work; as such, certain family members are eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on the work record of a deceased loved one.

What are the requirements and when can I begin receiving benefits?

Survivor's benefits are only available to spouses and ex-spouses if the marriage lasted longer than 10 years. If you are disabled, you can begin receiving survivor's benefits as early as age 50. If you are caring for a minor of the deceased under the age of 16, you can begin receiving benefits at any age. Otherwise, you must turn 60 before receiving benefits. However, as with all Social Security benefits, you will receive a reduced payment amount if you begin collecting benefits before age 65.

Can I get my deceased family member's disability benefits?

Disability benefits are intended for disabled individuals. You cannot receive SSDI benefits for anyone's disability except for your own. However, if you become disabled within seven years of your spouse's death, you may be entitled to receive disability benefits based on your deceased spouse's Social Security record.

How much help am I entitled to?

The amount of survivors benefits depends on the amount of benefit your deceased spouse was entitled to. Understanding when to take benefits and under which work record becomes especially complicated if you are nearing retirement age, disabled, and are eligible for Social Security benefits based both on your own record and that of your spouse's or deceased spouse's record.

I need survivor's benefits. What do I do now?

If you are disabled and unsure of whether you qualify for disability benefits based on your own work history or that of a deceased spouse's, speak to the experienced attorneys at Babut Law Offices, PLLC. Maximizing the amount of benefit you are owed is an important step, especially if you are now alone in bringing in income. Our experienced attorneys can hel you understand your options.

Keywords: Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, SSDI, survivor's benefits, spousal benefits, Social Security record, work history.