It is not uncommon that a person receiving social security disability benefits dies, leaving behind a spouse and sometimes even children. When this occurs, the spouse may be entitled to continue receiving some or even all of their deceased spouse's disability check. These benefits are paid to the survivors, or alive next of kin of the disability beneficiary who died.
However, the amount and type of benefits you will receive as the surviving spouse of a disability beneficiary depends on a variety of factors.
If you reached the age of retirement (67 years of age) at the time your spouse passed away, you will probably be entitled to 100% of his or her disability benefits. However, if you are already receiving retirement benefits of your own from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the SSA will take this into consideration and adjust the total amount of benefits you receive, depending on your circumstances.
If you have not yet reached retirement age, you may still qualify to receive a portion or percentage of your late spouse's disability benefits.
Absent unique circumstances, the SSA requires that you were married to your spouse for at least nine (9) months prior to their death.
There is also the possibility that former or ex-spouses are entitled to the disability benefits of their late ex, so long as the marriage lasted for ten (10) years or more. This is true, even if they remarried over the age of 60 (or 50 if you are disabled). You should consult with an experienced social security disability attorney, like those at the Fendon Law Firm, if your former spouse was receiving benefits and you think you may be entitled to a share.
DEPENDENT / MINOR CHILDREN
If your spouse died leaving behind minor or disabled children (or another relative) in your care, you as well as the minor/dependent children or family member will likely also be entitled to survivor disability benefits.
YOUR OWN DISABILITY
If you are also disabled, whether or not you receive benefits, you may be entitled to disability payments based on your late spouse's employment record, or a combination of your own work history and theirs. This may increase the amount of benefits you end-up bringing home.
OBTAINING SURVIVOR DISABILITY BENEFITS
How you apply for or obtain survivor disability benefits depends on whether you or your children were already receiving benefits from the SSA when your spouse died.
If you and/or your children were already receiving SSA benefits, whether they were based on your late spouse's disability or not, you simply need to notify the SSA that your spouse has died. The SSA will then determine if you or your children are eligible, and if so, in what amount(s).
However, if your late spouse was the only family member receiving disability benefits, you must apply for survivor benefits. It is critical that you complete this application as soon as possible, because you may not be able to obtain benefits retroactively, or from the date of your spouse's death.
If you are considering applying for survivor SSA benefits, in the process of already applying for some form of SSA benefits, or if you have received a denial of your application for benefits and want to appeal this decision, you need the help of an experienced Social Security attorney who knows SSA rules and regulations. At the Fendon Law Firm, our attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing SSA benefit claimants by obtaining an approval of benefits the first time or a reversal of benefits denial on appeal, and we are here to help you!
Contact us today for a free consultation at (602) 256-2000!