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Q: My 64-year-old husband receives SSDI benefits but has recently fallen ill—will I receive his SSDI benefits if he passes?

A:

While we often tend to focus on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process for the individual suffering from a career-ending disability, it can be just as challenging and uncertain for the individual’s dependents. Life can be turned upside down, and as an older adult, it can be very frightening to consider a life with little to no income.

As the spouse of an SSDI beneficiary, you may be eligible to receive widow or survivor benefits if your husband worked enough over the last decade to earn sufficient work credits and be considered “insured” by Social Security Administration standards. If your husband worked for most of his life until recently, he is very likely considered fully insured.

The next question (and since we would never expect a lady to reveal her true age, we’ll keep it hypothetical) is the age and disability bracket into which you fall. If you are between the ages of 50 and 60 years old and are considered disabled, you would be eligible to receive disabled widow benefits. If you are 62 years old or older, you are eligible to receive spousal benefits. Let’s look at what these two benefits entail.

Disabled Widow Benefits

Disabled widow benefits for disabled surviving spouses is available to spouses at least 50 years old with a disability that began before your spouse died or within seven years of his death. If you currently receive your own SSDI benefits, you will receive your own benefits plus the difference between the survivor benefits and your own (if the survivor benefits were greater). Survivor benefits are 71.5 percent of your spouse’s SSDI benefits; if you received less than this amount on your own, you will be given the difference, known as an excess survivor benefit.

Spousal Benefits

Spousal benefits for surviving spouses that are at least 60 years old will equal between 71.5 percent and 99 percent of your spouse’s SSDI benefits. If you are at full retirement age, you will receive the full 100 percent of your spouse’s SSDI benefits. If your own retirement benefits are higher, you are free to switch to those in lieu of your survivor benefits.

There are pros and cons to receiving your husband’s benefits before you reach your full retirement age. If you wait, you will collect a greater amount. If you are in need of the added income, especially if you have none of your own, collecting a smaller amount over time may benefit you more.

There are also several restrictions to survivor benefits, which we can discuss in detail in a free consultation with you. Some of these restrictions include remarrying before you reach a certain age, your own income, and more. To discuss your options with a Social Security disability attorney today, simply call our office today at (88) 476-0807 or click on the live chat link. You’ll be connected with a Schmidt Kramer representative that can help you as you navigate the challenges of your SSDI claim.

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