The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides financial assistance in the form of disability benefits to workers who have become disabled and unable to work. These benefits can help pay for the costs of medical care and everyday living expenses.
If the person receiving disability benefits used them to support others, such as a spouse or children, and they pass away, assistance is still available to those survivors as long as they meet certain criteria.
If you are the spouse of the deceased worker, there are a variety of different circumstances in which you may be eligible to receive survivor’s benefits based on their disability benefits.
You can receive a full benefit amount when you reach your full retirement age. This age is between 65 and 67 depending on your year of birth. Refer to the list below to find your full retirement age:
- 1937 – 65 years
- 1938 – 65 years, 2 months
- 1939 – 65 years, 4 months
- 1940 – 65 years, 6 months
- 1941 – 65 years, 8 months
- 1942 – 65 years, 10 months
- 1943 through 1954 – 66 years
- 1955 – 66 years, 2 months
- 1956 – 66 years, 4 months
- 1957 – 66 years, 6 months
- 1958 – 66 years, 8 months
- 1959 – 66 years, 10 months
- 1960 and later – 67 years
As a widow or widower, at age 60, you can receive partial survivor’s benefits. The benefits will be reduced by a certain percentage for each month before you reach your full retirement age.
At age 50, you can receive full benefits if you are also disabled, and have been for at least seven years before the death of worker, your spouse. Note that the SSA will have to evaluate your disability in a similar fashion to when the primary worker applied for benefits.
If you divorced the worker before their death, but you were married for at least ten years, you are still eligible for survivor’s benefits. The same eligibility rules apply as those for a current spouse.
If you are a child of the deceased worker, you must be unmarried and under 18, or 19 if currently enrolled in a secondary level of schooling, to be able to receive survivor’s benefits. If you were disabled before the age of 22 and are still disabled, you are eligible for survivor’s benefits no matter how old you are.
Even the parents of the deceased worker may be eligible for disability benefits. To meet the criteria, you must be over 62 and must have relied on the worker for over half of your living expenses prior to their death.
Stepchildren, adopted children, and grandchildren of the deceased worker may also be eligible for survivor’s benefits if they meet certain, specific criteria.
Get Help with Survivor’s Benefits
If you relied on the disability benefits of a worker who has passed away and you are confused about your eligibility for survivor’s benefits, consider hiring a disability benefits lawyer or advocate to help you. A lawyer or advocate can answer your questions and make sure you are getting the survivor’s benefits you need and deserve.