Tuesday, December 5, 2023

How Does Social Security Disability Work When A Spouse Dies

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When Can A Survivor Collect Social Security Benefits

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According to the SSA, survivors may be able to begin collecting benefits as soon as the month that the beneficiary dies. Its important to apply for the benefits immediately, too, as the SSA points out that some benefits may not be retroactive. So, for example, if you wait for three months, those last three checks could be unable to be claimed.

How To Qualify For Spousal Benefits

Whether youre currently married or divorced determines how you can qualify for spousal benefits.;

You can qualify for spousal benefits if you meet all of these requirements:

  • Your spouse is already receiving retirement benefits.
  • You have been married for at least one year.
  • You are at least 62 years old, or you are caring for a child who is under age 16 or disabled.


If you are divorced, you can receive Social Security spousal benefits based on your ex-spouses earnings record if you meet all of these requirements:

  • You were married for at least 10 years.
  • You never remarried.
  • You are age 62 or older.
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
  • The benefit that you would receive would be more than what youd get based on your own work record.

Note: Its not necessary for your ex to be taking his or her benefits for you to receive spousal benefits, but if he or she isnt, there is one additional requirement to qualify for spousal benefits. In this case, you must have been divorced for at least two years.;

If You Haven’t Applied For Retirement Benefits Yet

Spouses who are eligible for both the survivor benefit and the retirement benefit based on their own work record, can maximize their total benefits by taking them in the most advantageous order. The Social Security Administration explains how this works:

If you are also eligible for retirement benefits , you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other benefit at a later date.

The right order for you will depend on the size of each benefit. If both payouts currently are about the same, it may be best to take the survivor benefit at age 60. It’s going to be reduced because you’re taking it early, but you can collect that benefit from age 60 to age 70 while your own retirement benefit continues to grow. Then you can collect your own benefit starting at age 70 when it maxes out.

Conversely, if your own benefit is small compared to the survivor benefit , you could take your own benefit at;age 62, which is the earliest age at which you’re eligible. Then, at age 66,;you could switch over to the survivor benefit. However, the survivor benefit would be reduced since it was taken early or before full retirement age.

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Can I Get Benefits If My Deceased Spouse Was On Disability

You cannot receive disability benefits based on anyones disability except your own. You can, however, receive survivors benefits under certain circumstances. Its also worth noting that in some cases, your deceased spouses earnings and contributions to FICA can be considered in determining the amount of disability benefits you are entitled to if you are also disabled.

Generally speaking, if you are of retirement age , you can receive Social Security retirement benefits based on your spouses record with the SSA. In some cases, you may be able to receive disability benefits based upon his earnings if youre also disabled.

In order to qualify, you must either be disabled at the time of your spouses death or become disabled within seven years of his/her death. In most cases, you will qualify for survivors benefits as long as you were married for at least nine months. You may also qualify if you are the parent of the deceaseds minor children . Here are some additional exceptions to the nine month rule:

If your spouse qualified for and received SSDI, then he had earnings which also counted towards Social Security retirement and survivors benefits. Both you and any minor children in the home will likely qualify.

The laws regarding survivor benefits can be tricky. If you are not sure whether you qualify for benefits based on your deceased spouses FICA contributions, contact the SSA.

Chapter 2: Who Is Eligible For Survivor Benefits From Social Security

Can I Draw Social Security from My Husband
  • A widow or widower age 60 or older who was and did not remarry before age 60
  • A surviving divorced spouse who was married to the deceased for at least 10 years
  • A widow or widower of any age caring for the deceaseds child who is under 16 or disabled and receiving benefits on their record
  • An unmarried child of the deceased who is: younger than age 18 or age 18 or older with a disability that began before 22
  • Parents of the deceased worker who are 1) at least 62; 2) were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their income, and 3) whose own Social Security benefit is not larger than that of their deceased child

Did you Know?

If you were married to the deceased for at least9 months, you could be eligible for survivors benefits.;

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Full Retirement Age For Survivor Benefits

If you were born before 1962, you need to understand that the definition of full retirement age is different for survivor benefits than it is for all other benefits.

Knowing exactly when you are full retirement age is important when filing for your survivors benefits. Why? Because if the survivor benefit is the highest benefit youll be entitled to, there is generally no benefit to delaying your filing beyond that age.

What Happens To Social Security Disability Benefits When A Spouse Dies

  • When a spouse dies, you may be able to receive Social Security disability benefits. Find out how Social Security disability works when your spouse passes.

The loss of a spouse is difficult enough, but along with it, there are financial issues to sort out. When a spouse who had been collecting Social Security disability benefits passes away, that benefit is sometimes passed onto the surviving spouse if they meet certain criteria.

Remember that each person’s situation is different, and if you have any questions about whether or not you’d qualify to receive Social Security disability after a spouse passes, you can contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to a Social Security representative.

Learn more below about the intricacies of how Social Security disability works after a spouse dies.

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What Is A Social Security Card

Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.

When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.

A Few Other Situations:

Death of Social Security Disability Claimant: What Happens
  • If you already receive benefits as a spouse, your benefit will automatically convert to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death.
  • If you are also eligible for retirement benefits , you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other benefit later.
  • For those already receiving retirement benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the retirement benefit you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor.
  • If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you may be able towithdraw your retirement application and apply for survivors benefits only. If you do that, you can reapply for the retirement benefits later when they will be higher.

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How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify

While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:

  • Those who are currently retired

  • To people with disabilities

  • To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died

Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration offers.

There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:

  • Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits

Social Security Benefits For Single Vs Married

Millions of individuals and married couples receive billions in monthly Social Security benefits each year. Your marital status determines how you qualify for Social Security disability, retirement or survivors benefits as well as how much youre entitled to. Even if youre divorced, you may be entitled to the same benefits as married spouses.

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Ease The Stress And Avoid Mistakes With An Attorneys Help

Weve only covered the basics of this complex area of Social Security law. Everyones circumstances are different and will directly affect eligibility and even the strategy taken with a claim.

If your ex-spouse or spouse has passed away, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible so you understand whether you qualify for disability benefits, as either a widow or widower or as a surviving divorced spouse.

Your initial legal consultation is free and will be highly informative. We can help with your initial application or take your case to appeal a denied claim. We will discuss any questions you have and provide insights into many concerns not addressed here. Call today.

About Marc Whitehead

How To Apply For Social Security Survivor Benefits

How Does Social Security Disability Work When a Spouse Dies?

If you think you might be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits after the death of a beneficiary, there are some steps youll need to take to apply for them.;The first is reporting the death to the Social Security Administration if the funeral home hasnt done that already. You can also begin the application process at the time you report the death.;

There are certain documents youll need to apply for Social Security survivor benefits. The documentation requirements depend on whether youre applying for benefits as a widow or widower, as the deceased persons parent, or as the parent of the deceased persons child. Generally, the list includes things such as:

  • Proof of the beneficiarys death
  • Your birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Birth certificates for each child for whom youre claiming benefits
  • W-2s and tax returns for the deceased beneficiary
  • Divorce decree if youre applying as a divorced surviving spouse;

The Social Security Administration will accept photocopies of items such as ID cards and tax returns, but youll need to provide original copies of birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates. These can be returned to you once your application for survivor benefits has been processed.

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I Am A Surviving Spouse Am I Eligible For The Lump

Yes, if all these are true:

  • You were married for at least nine months immediately before your spouse died.

  • Your deceased spouse was fully insured according to Social Security, meaning your spouse had worked and paid into the system long enough to qualify for benefits.

  • You were living together in the same household when your spouse died. There are exceptions for things like hospital and nursing home stays.

  • You apply for the lump-sum death benefit within two years of your spouses death.

Report The Death To The Social Security Administration

If your departed loved one was collecting Social Security benefits, you need to get in touch with Social Security right away. In most cases, the funeral home will notify the SSA. Youll have to tell the funeral home the social security number of your deceased loved one, and theyll handle it from there.;;

But, if they dont offer that service or youre not using a funeral home, youll need to do it yourself. Unfortunately, you cannot report a death online. Youll have to call the Social Security Administration to make a death notification at 1-800-772-1213.;

If youre deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech impairment and you have a TTY device, you can get in touch through their designated TTY line at 1-800-325-0778. Representatives are usually able to speak to you Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

You can also visit your local Social Security office in person if you prefer not to deal with the situation over the phone. You dont need an appointment, but if you call ahead and schedule one, itll reduce your waiting time.

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Social Security Factors For Married Couples

Married couples often make a big mistake when it comes to deciding when to start taking their Social Security benefits.;They view the decision as if they were single, which means that the main factor they consider;is their break-even age. Instead, they should be looking at the joint life expectancy of both partners.;For married people, only considering monthly checks in terms of a;single life expectancy can become a very costly mistake, and one that you can’t alter after it’s been made.

How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits

ð´How Much Social Security Does an ex Spouse Get if Divorced?

Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You get one credit quarterly for every $1,470 dollars you earn in 2021, and you can earn up to four credits. Most people make more than $5,880 a year, but four credits is the maximum applied to Social Security benefits. You accumulate benefits your entire working life until you reach full retirement age , or FRA. You can start collecting benefits before your full retirement age, but theyll be reduced.

Social Security survivors benefits are based on a percentage of your spouses benefits. If the deceased started collecting reduced benefits before reaching full retirement age, your survivors benefits would be reduced as well. If the deceased died before he/she was eligible to collect, the benefit is based on what they would have received when they retired.

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Can I Claim One Benefit And Then Switch To Another Later

If you are eligible for a survivor benefit before you reach your full retirement age, you can select the survivor benefit and delay receiving your benefit should it exceed the survivor benefit before or upon reaching age 70.; You can collect the survivor benefit at age 60 and then let your benefit increase until age 70.; You could switch to your benefit once it exceeds the survivor benefit or let it continue to increase until your reach age 70.

The opposite option is also available.; If your deceased spouse had not claimed their benefit and if you have reached age 62 you could claim your benefit.; When your spouses benefit is fully maximized upon them reaching age 70 you could then switch and claim the survivor benefit.

What Happens If The Deceased Received Monthly Benefits

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death and any later months.

For example, if the person died in July, you must return the benefits paid in August. How you return the benefits depends on how the deceased received benefits:

  • For funds received by direct deposit, contact the bank or other financial institution. Request that any funds received for the month of death or later be returned to Social Security.
  • Benefits received by check must be returned to Social Security as soon as possible. Do not cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later.

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How Much Ssdi Can I Qualify For

The amount of Social Security disability benefits you qualify for depends on the amount your deceased spouse was receiving. The amount you receive may be based on your age and how long you were married.

In general, if you’re 62 or older, you’ll likely qualify for the full benefit upon your spouse’s passing. If, however, you’re between 50-62, you likely will qualify for a percentage of that benefit based on your age.;

As with most things related to federal and Social Security benefits, it’s best to contact a Social Security representative so they can answer questions specific to your situation.

I Am A Surviving Spouse Can I Get Survivor Benefits

Social Security Program

Yes, if all these are true:

  • You were married for at least nine months immediately before your spouse died.

  • Your spouse was fully insured according to Social Security, meaning he or she had worked and paid into the system long enough to qualify for benefits.

  • You are one of these:

  • 60 or older.

  • 50 or older and disabled.

  • Caring for a child who is under 16 OR getting Social Security disability benefits on your spouses earnings record.

  • You have not remarried before age 60 .

  • Your monthly Social Security benefit must be lower than what your spouse got, UNLESS your own benefit is higher than the survivor benefit you would get and you are applying for survivor benefits to delay retiring on your own earnings record.

  • *A surviving divorced spouse may also be eligible for survivors benefits if s/he was married to the eligible deceased person for at least ten years.

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