What You Need to Know: Widows Benefits and Social Security Disability
When you qualify for two types of Social Security benefits, such as widows benefits and Social Security disability (SSDI), you may be unsure which to pursue or how they might work together.
Understanding the Two Types of Benefits
Widows benefits, technically known as survivors’ benefits, are available to certain dependents of a deceased worker who earned Social Security benefits. The widow or widower of a qualified worker is entitled to Social Security survivors’ benefits if:
- The surviving spouse has reached full retirement age (reduced benefits are available at age 60),
- The surviving spouse is at least 50 and has a disability,
- The surviving spouse is caring for a child or children of the deceased who are under the age of 16 and receiving Social Security benefits, or
- The surviving spouse is caring for a child of the deceased who is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits
A divorced spouse of a deceased worker may qualify for benefits under the same conditions if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. The 10-year requirement is not imposed if the former spouse is caring for children of the deceased as described above.
Social Security Disability Benefits
SSDI benefits are payable to qualified workers who are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a disability that is expected to last at least one year or be fatal. To qualify for SSDI, you must have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, including a certain number of recent credits. The exact number depends on your age when you became disabled.
Can You Get Both SSDI and Widows Benefits?
You may qualify for both disability benefits and widows benefits. But, you can’t get the full amount of both benefits. Instead, your monthly benefit will be capped at the higher of the two amounts. Here’s how it works:
Imagine that you are receiving $1,350/month in Social Security disability benefits when your spouse passes away and you become qualified for survivors’ benefits. You qualify for $1,900 in survivors’ benefits, but you won’t receive that full amount. Instead, you will continue to receive your $1,350 in disability benefits and will receive an additional $550/month in widows benefits to bring you up to the amount of the higher benefit.
Need Help Getting Social Security Disability Benefits?
SSDI benefits provide a crucial source of support for workers who become disabled. But, unfortunately, most claims are initially denied. Working with an experienced disability benefits advocate from the beginning can help avoid common missteps that can delay your claim or lead to denial.
To learn more, contact us here or call (800) 800-3332.