Government benefits often bridge the gap between a person’s needs and their income. This is especially true for individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. For example, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) both provide disability payments to those who qualify. But what happens when the person who qualified for the benefits dies? Are SSDI and SSI death benefits available to family members?
Who can receive SSDI and SSI death benefits?
When someone who was receiving SSDI passes away, survivor benefits may be paid to:
- A surviving spouse;
- Minor children;
- Adult children if under age 19 and attending high school, or you became disabled before reaching age 22;
- Grandchildren who meet certain requirements;
- Ex-Spouses if married for more than 10 years and have not remarried before age 60; and
- Parents who are elderly and dependent on the deceased person’s support.
However, survivor benefits paid to a family are limited to 150-180% of the deceased person’s benefits.
What SSDI death benefits may a surviving spouse receive?
However, the surviving spouse’s circumstances affect the benefit he or she receives: The surviving spouse generally may receive the following percent of their deceased spouse’s SSDI benefits:
- 75% if caring for a child under age 16 who receives SSDI benefits from deceased spouse.
- 5% if at least 50 years old, disabled before spouse died or within seven years of spouse’s death.
- 5% – 99% if at least 60 years old but have not reached full retirement age.
- 100% if at least full retirement age.
This may seem cut-and-dried, but there are a few twists:
- Benefits may be terminated if you remarry before age 60.
- The surviving spouse may choose the larger of their own benefit payment and the deceased spouse’s.
- Working may reduce SSDI death benefit payments.
Remember these two important things:
- Tell the SSA as soon as possible after someone dies; and
- Never cash checks or use direct deposited SSDI benefits after the recipient has died.
Rules About SSDI Death Benefits Sound Complicated
They are. The SSA rules regarding disability are often hard to understand and many people don’t receive all the benefits they deserve. You need someone on your side. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.