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Social Security Disability Benefits: Planning for Spousal Survivors

One of the main concerns of people on Social Security Disability benefits is ensuring that their family is taken care of after they are gone. Thankfully, the Social Security Administration allows for survivor benefits to go to your spouse or divorced spouse if certain requirements are met by you and your family. Understanding how survivor benefits are triggered with Social Security Disability benefits can mean the difference between financial security and struggle for your family after you pass away.

Earning Credits for Survivor Benefits

The first question asked when applying for survivor disability benefits is whether enough credits were earned under the Social Security system. You can earn up to four credits per year for Social Security benefits, with one credit earned for every $1,360 of wages. The number of credits needed to trigger survivor benefits depends on your age when you pass. The maximum number of credits needed to trigger survivor benefits is forty, but the younger you pass away the less credits are needed for your family to collect your benefits. Disability benefits can be paid to your spouse or divorced spouse if they are caring for your children even if you do not have the required number of credits so long as you collect six credits, or one and a half years of work, in the three years prior to your death.

Survivor Benefits for Widows and Widowers

Around five million widows and widowers collects Social Security benefits every year based on their deceased spouse’s benefits. Under the law, spouses of the deceased can collect reduced benefits as early as age sixty or full disability benefits at retirement age. If widows or widowers qualify for their own retirement benefits, they can switch to those at age 62. In addition, spouses of the deceased can collect disability benefits as early as age fifty if they are disabled and the disability started before or within seven years of your death. Widows and widowers can receive benefits at any age if they have not remarried and are taking care of a minor or disabled child. If they remarry after age sixty, it will not affect their survivor benefits.

Survivor Benefits for a Divorced Spouse

A divorced spouse can also collect survivor benefits, regardless of whether you remarried, so long as the marriage lasted for ten years or more. Similar to a widow or widower, a divorced spouse can switch to their own retirement benefits as early as age 62, and the benefits paid to a divorced spouse do not affect the amount of benefits paid to other survivors. If a divorced spouse is caring for your minor or disabled child, they do not have to meet the length of marriage rule. However, the child must be your natural or legally adopted child in order to qualify.

Call or Contact Our Office Now

If you have questions about survivor benefits for your Social Security disability benefits, our office is here to answer all of your legal questions. Call or contact Harbison & Kavanagh in Richmond today to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability benefits attorney now.

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