Can a Spouse Benefit from Your SSDI Benefits?

Doug Mann

Have a question for a lawyer?
Get a Free Case Evaulation
Table of Contents
  1. Spousal Benefits: Retirement Vs. Disability
  2. Eligibility for SSDI Spousal Benefits
  3. Spousal Benefit Amounts
  4. Spousal Survivors Benefits
  5. Benefits for Dependent Children
  6. When in Doubt, Contact an Attorney

A disability in the United States is identified as a mental or psychological disorder or physical impairment that limits a person from executing essential tasks. It prevents them from functioning independently and limits their ability to work effectively in the workforce.

Social Security Disability Benefits refers to the monetary assistance that is received by individuals who are unable to work due to their disability. The amount that is allocated is not based on present income, nor the severity of the impairment but the average lifetime earnings received before the infirmity.

For individuals who have a spouse, a child, or others who are reliant on their care, they can also receive benefits from this program. Read on for more information regarding eligibility, maximum family benefit, and the amount that is received by a spouse (spousal benefits) or other dependents.

Spousal Benefits: Retirement Vs. Disability

Social Security Spousal Benefits is a program that is funded by the federal government. It is controlled by the United States Social Security Administration, known as SSA. The benefits that are issued go to the spouse of the disabled worker that is presently receiving this compensation.

Disabled workers receiving benefits from the program can expect to continue receiving it, as long as their condition shows no improvement. Therefore, up until the age of about 65, they can continue to claim Social Security benefits.

However, once they are 65 or are considered to be of retirement age, retirement benefits will begin to take effect. Recipients cannot receive both Social Security disability benefits as well as Social Security retirement benefits at the same time as one transcends the other.

Eligibility for SSDI Spousal Benefits

Some requirements must be followed if a spouse wishes to qualify for SSDI spousal benefits. The person expecting to receive compensation must be a spouse to the Social Security disability insurance recipient for a complete year. The spouse should not be collecting Social Security disability on their own

Additionally, if the spouse is looking after a child who is under the age of 16 or a child that is disabled, they may be eligible for the compensation. However, note that the child must be related to the retired or disabled recipient receiving SSDI benefits.

Spousal Benefit Amounts

The spousal benefit amount that is received is contingent on a few things. You can collect Social Security disability benefits as a spouse, based on your own earnings, or you can apply under your spouse’s Social Security benefits. If you choose the latter, you will receive 50 percent of the amount that is allocated to your spouse, based on calculations pertaining to their retirement age.

If you are a former spouse, there are stipulations. If you were married and the union lasted longer than ten years, you are eligible for benefits under your former spouse. That applies even if they have moved on and have re-married.

However, if you are not married and you are 62 years of age or older, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits under your former spouse’s record. Similar conditions also apply to widowers.

Spousal Survivors Benefits

Spousal Survivors Benefits refers to the compensation you may be entitled to for surviving someone who was receiving Social Security disability insurance.  That applies to you whether you were the spouse, child, or surviving parent of the recipient. If you are the surviving spouse of the deceased, and you were married to them for over nine months, you are eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits.

Correspondingly, if the departed has a surviving child under the age of 16 for whom you, as the spouse, were caring for, then the nine-month timeframe is removed.

Once a recipient has passed away, it is imperative that the SSA is notified of their death. All checks received by the surviving spouse, the month the receiver has passed and after that must be returned to the SSA. That can be done by the surviving spouse or by the funeral home.

Regardless of who does it, it is an action that must be performed before filing. However, it is important to note that the amount being received may be reduced due to your earnings record as the surviving spouse. So, you may not receive the same amount that was received by the former recipient, your spouse.

Benefits for Dependent Children

Children of Social Security disability insurance recipients are also eligible for dependent’s benefits, but there are a few stipulations. The maximum family benefit, along with other specifications play a role in how much is allocated to the child, the spouse, or other family members.  

If the child is unmarried and they are younger than 18, they are 18-19 years old, or they are enrolled as a full-time student in high school, they can qualify for SSDI benefits from their parents. Additionally, if they are 18 years of age or older and they have a recognized disability that started before the age of 22, they are also eligible to receive dependent’s benefits.  

If the parent is disabled or retired and they are receiving Social Security disability benefits, their child can receive benefits under their name. Likewise, if the child’s parent dies and they have paid Social Security taxes, then benefits can be obtained by the surviving child under these circumstances as well.

The United States Social Security Administration has a limit on the amount of money that can be allotted to a spouse and family, which is known as a maximum family benefit. A child can collect up to 50% of their parent’s disability or full retirement benefits. Also, up to 75% of their departed parent’s social security benefit can be afforded to the surviving child, but there are limitations concerning whether a spouse or other relatives are present, which relates to the maximum family benefit that is provided.  

Maximum family benefit refers to the highest monthly amount that can be given to a family based on the disabled worker’s earnings. A unique formula is used to determine the maximum family benefit that can be received.  The SSA offers a calculator to determine maximum family benefit.

When in Doubt, Contact an Attorney

As many who have dealt with the Social Security Administration can likely attest to, the stringent requirements and criteria set forth can be overwhelming. At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, our experienced disability attorneys understand the ins and outs of the system, and can help to steer you in the right direction if you’re not making headway on your own. Reach out to us today to set up a free consultation to see what we can do to help you.

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Have a legal question? Email our team. We respond to all messages within 24 hours.