William has been unable to work for two years due to his prostate cancer. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits he receives really help support his wife and children. Since his prognosis is poor, he wonders how his family will pay the bills when he is gone. Some government benefit programs, including SSDI, do allow a recipient’s children and spouse to qualify for survivor benefits. In fact, surviving family members may receive up to 180 percent of a deceased worker’s benefits.
To receive SSDI benefits, you must have earned enough work credits. If you have paid Social Security taxes, you have earned work credits. The number you need depends on your age. However, at least some of those credits must have been earned in the years prior to the onset of your disability. Once you have qualified for SSDI benefits, your survivors may be entitled to benefits also.
Surviving Spouse Benefits
As the widow or widower of someone who received SSDI benefits, you may receive survivor benefits under the following conditions:
- You are at least 50 years old and disabled. However, your disability must have started before your spouse’s death or within seven years of the death.
- Although at least 60 years old, you are not yet at full retirement age.
- You support a child under age 16 years old who receives SSDI benefits because of your deceased spouse.
- If at full retirement age, you typically will get 100% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefits.
There are some quirky twists and exceptions related to surviving spouse benefits. For example, remarrying before age 60 years old may terminate your surviving spouse benefits.
Survivor Benefits for Children
When a parent was receiving SSDI benefits or was insured for SSDI at the time of death, his or her children may receive Social Security survivor benefits. However, the child must be:
- Unmarried; and
- No more than 18 years of age unless you are in high school or disabled.
Adult children may also receive survivor benefits if:
- They are age19 and attending high school.
- They were disabled before age 22.
If you are not sure whether you or your children are eligible, it never hurts to ask. Consulting an attorney would be your first step.
It’s Good to Plan Ahead
Dealing with a government agency can be tough. But it is important to make sure your spouse and children, if any, have the support they need.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience in the legal field. Call us at 714-385-8100 to set up a free consultation. Though our office is conveniently located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.