The death of a spouse is tragic, no matter at what age. Not only is the widow or widower dealing with grief, but they also have to adjust to daily life without their spouse. It’s sad to think about how to support yourself if your spouse passes away before you, but it’s important to know your options so your grief isn’t compounded by financial difficulties.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are about five million widows and widowers who receive Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse’s earnings. For many, this small sum keeps the grieving loved ones financially afloat during this tough time. With this in mind, if you are diagnosed with a disability, it may be best to apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible in order to protect both yourself today and your loved one in the case that you are no longer there to support them down the road.
What Are You Entitled to as a Spouse?
You may be entitled to your spouse’s Social Security benefits in the case of his or her death, but there are some requirements that must be met. In order to draw benefits from your spouse’s record, your spouse must have worked enough during his or her lifetime to have been fully insured for Social Security benefits at the time of his or her death.
Additionally, to draw benefits from the record of a deceased spouse, you must have been married for at least nine months (with a few exceptions). If you are a surviving divorced spouse, however, the marriage must have lasted at least ten years before you can qualify to draw benefits from your ex-spouse’s record.
If you meet the requirements listed above, you can qualify for benefits under the following circumstances:
- If you are 60 years or older, you can begin receiving reduced benefits, even if you have not been deemed disabled.
- If you are at least 50 years old, disabled, and your disability began within seven years after your spouse’s death (or before your spouse’s death), you can be entitled to full disability benefits.
- Regardless of your age, if you are caring for your deceased spouse’s child who is under the age of 16 or disabled, you are eligible for Social Security benefits from your spouse’s record.
Can Remarriage Affect Your Eligibility?
Sometimes. If you are a widow or widower who remarries after reaching the age of 60, the remarriage will not affect your eligibility for these benefits. If you marry before age 60, your eligibility may be affected.
How to Apply
Widows and widowers have a slightly different process for applying for their deceased spouse’s Social Security benefits than if one was applying on their own. In this case, they are not allowed to apply online. Instead, you should follow the following steps:
- Consult with an attorney to know your rights and what exactly you are entitled to.
- Gather any necessary documents that might affect the decision (medical records, doctors’ notes, legal documents, etc.).
- Complete an adult disability form so that you might speed up the process. You can access this online.
- Contact Social Security to set up an appointment.
- Use documentation and your adult disability form to make your case.
Help from an Evansville Disability Attorney
Losing a spouse is a devastating event. The last thing that you need in the midst of this is to be denied necessary benefits. Be sure to have someone with your best interests at heart fighting for you throughout this process. Contact Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation or contact us online.