The Benefits of Social Security Disability When a Spouse Dies

by Dell Markey
If your spouse collected SSDI, you might be eligible for survivor's benefits.

The death of a spouse can be distressing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the potential loss of income. If your deceased spouse was receiving Social Security disability benefits, you undoubtedly have questions about whether you can continue to collect any of these benefits. If you are eligible for survivor's benefits, contact the SSA to have the benefits transferred to you.

SSI

If your spouse was receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will not be able to continue receiving his SSI payments. You might, however, qualify for SSI yourself if you are over 65 or disabled and have limited resources and income. In most cases, if your spouse met the income and resources requirements for SSI, you will, too. If you are not yet 65, you will need to show that you are completely disabled and unable to work. This process usually takes three to 18 months.

SSDI

If your spouse collected SSDI, you might be eligible to receive some or all of your spouse's benefits. In most cases, you will only qualify for 100 percent of your spouse's SSDI benefit if you are of full retirement age yourself. If you are 60 or older, you might receive a percentage of your spouse's SSDI ranging from 71.5 percent to 99 percent, based on your age. You might also qualify for a percentage of your spouse's SSDI benefits if you care for his dependent children under the age of 16 (75 percent) or are at least 50 years old and are disabled yourself. (71.5 percent).

Higher Amount

Your eligibility for survivor's benefits can be affected by your own eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security will not pay you both your own retirement benefit and your survivor's benefits. Instead, it will pay you the higher of the two benefit amounts. Your eligibility for spousal survivor's benefits can also be affected by any pensions you receive that were not covered under the Social Security program, including some types of government work and jobs held in foreign countries.

Other Factors

Several other factors can affect your eligibility for survivor's benefits. These include remarriage before you turn 60, which disqualifies you from continuing benefits; having been married to the deceased for less than nine months (some exceptions apply in cases of accidental death); and dependent children turning 16 (unless disabled). The amount of SSDI benefits you are eligible to receive might also be reduced as a result of your income if you are working.

About the Author

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.

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