Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits After the Death of Your Spouse

When you are mourning the loss of a spouse, the last thing you should have to worry about is your finances. Unfortunately, for many of our clients the opposite is true. Every day we work with clients that are in the midst of dealing with the loss of a loved one and are suddenly forced to come to us for assistance in securing their late spouse’s Social Security disability benefits after their passing. While it may sound frivolous to some, if you are relying on your spouse’s Social Security income to support your household, ensuring you continue to receive it is critical to your family’s financial future.

If you have specific questions about receiving your spouses’ Social Security disability benefits, please contact us.

In general here is how the SSA determines eligibility for disabled widows or widowers:

  • You must be age 50 or over.
  • You must be totally disabled from work and have the medical documentation to prove it.
  • Your disability must be expected to last 12 months or more, or until death.
  • Your disability must have occurred within 7 years of your spouse’s death.
  • Your spouse must have paid enough in to the Social Security system so that he/she would have been eligible to receive benefits before their death.

Widow/Widower Benefits for the Surviving Spouse

If you are not disabled, you still may be entitled to Widow/Widower benefits upon your spouses’ death. If your spouse was receiving regular Social Security benefits when he/she passed away, as the surviving spouse you may be eligible to receive those benefits if you are over age 60. While you can’t collect benefits for the month in which your spouse dies, you can begin the process so payments can be transferred to you as soon as you are determined eligible. To start the process, you’ll need to visit your local Social Security office and present the appropriate documents. Here’s some more information on the process from the SSA.

Are you a parent that is disabled and needs help supporting your children?

It is generally understood that if you become disabled, YOU may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.  However, many people don’t realize that if you become disabled and have family members that are financially dependent on you, you and your family may also qualify for auxiliary SSDI benefits.  Auxiliary SSDI benefits can help you continue to support your family when you unable to work by providing your dependents with Social Security benefits.

The criteria for auxiliary SSD benefits is complex and could require the help of an experienced attorney to secure.  In general, in order to be eligible for auxiliary benefits the family member applying cannot be someone you claim on your tax return.  It can be your spouse if he/she is unable to work because he/she is caring for a child younger than age 16.  It could also be disabled children of any age and minor children who are not married.

If you are working with us to secure SSDI benefits, it important that you tell us about any dependents who might qualify for auxiliary SSD when we are preparing your claim.

Children and SSI

If you have a child who cannot function because he or she is challenged by medical, mental, or emotional issues, your child may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI benefits for children are not connected to whether or not the child can work; they are based on physical capacities and ability to care for oneself, cognitive ability, level of socialization, and emotional balance.

A child under the age of 18 may quality if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children and meet the financial requirements. Social Security considers your child’s income and resources. They also consider income and resources of family members living in the child’s household.

There are many complex circumstances that may entitle you, your spouse, your children or other dependents to additional Social Security benefits.  If you have a Social Security disability claim or receive benefits, ensuring that you take advantage of all the programs available to you could mean the difference between financial security and struggling to make ends meet.  Contact us to learn more about other benefits we may be able to help you apply for.

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    "I was able to win my SSD case in 5 months due to cancer. We've been struggling to make ends meet due to the high medical costs when I was working, but we wouldn't be able to pay our bills if I didn't win this case. I am very grateful to the paralegal, Allison, who worked very hard with the attorney to get this settled quickly! "


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