SSA survivor benefits for a disabled widow or widower

Earlier this week I mentioned Social Security Mother and Father’s survivor benefits. Another potential SSA benefit for widows and widowers if younger than age 60 is that of disabled widow or widower. Age based benefits for a widow or widower can begin as early as age 60. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov for general information about Social Security.  

If you are the disabled widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can potentially receive benefits through your spouse’s work record. Some requirements are that you must be between the ages of 50 and 60, your medical condition must meet the definition of disability for adults, and your disability must have started before or within seven years of the worker’s (your spouse) death.  

This seven-year period is adjusted if you received Social Security Mother or Father’s benefits. In this case, you can still be eligible for disabled widow(er) benefits if the disability starts before the Mother or Fathers benefits end or within seven years after they end.

How much is involved? Just as with other Social Security survivor benefits, the basic monthly amount payable to a disabled widow(er) is based on a percentage of the deceased spouses full retirement age (FRA) amount, not the age of the person receiving benefits. For a disabled widow or widower, the monthly amount is about 71½ percent of the deceased person’s FRA amount. The monthly amount can be lower if the deceased spouse had received Social Security benefits or if several people are receiving survivor benefits on the record. 

Definitions of disability for this are the same as for Social Security disability on a person’s own work record. A disabled widow(er) can apply for disability on her or his own record but must meet work requirements.

You cannot apply online for Social Security survivors benefits. You can complete the Adult Disability Report, part of the medical background material, online if applying as a disabled widow or widower. You can complete an online application for Social Security disability on your own work record. 

Remarriage can affect survivor benefit eligibility. The general rule is if a widow or widower remarries before she or he reaches age 60 (age 50 if disabled), they cannot receive Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse while married. If remarriage occurs after age 60 (age 50 if disabled), SSA survivor benefits can continue. Ask about your specific situation in advance. 

Always contact Social Security about possible benefits when there is a death in the family. For more about survivors benefits, see Survivors Benefits, SSA publication 05-10084, online or contact a SSA office.

 

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