Any worker who has a long term disability and enough Social Security credits can apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits. Also called SSDI benefits, these can help individuals who can’t work because of an injury or illness. But can you draw Social Security based on your spouse’s disability?
Workers aren’t the only ones who can receive compensation. Sometimes their spouses are entitled to benefits as well. Those who have been married for at least a year may get benefits. Even if you’re divorced, if you were married for at least ten years, you could still qualify.
It Starts at 62
Spouse benefits begin, generally, at the age of 62. As long as the two of you have been married for at least a year, once you turn 62, you can get a benefit check. In the event you become eligible to receive higher benefits as a result of your own record, though, those disability benefits will end.
Those benefits don’t necessarily end when your spouse dies. In fact, they can kick in earlier if your spouse dies. As long as the spouse is at least sixty, or if the individual is disabled and between the ages of 50 and 60, he or she is entitled to a spouse’s survivors benefits. Once again, if the spouse becomes eligible for higher benefits, those spousal benefits end. In the event remarriage occurs, the benefits will also cease.
Spouse Benefits in Cases of Divorce
Divorce is incredibly common in society today, but it doesn’t always affect the benefits one can receive. If the relationship lasted for at least ten years, the divorced spouse may file for disabled worker benefits if he or she is at least 62.
Survivor benefits come into play for divorced couples too. If the individual was receiving SSDI benefits when he or she died, the divorced spouse can file for those benefits as long as he or she is at least 60 or if he or she is disabled and between the ages of 50 and 60. Remarriage changes this equation too, as if it occurs before the age of 60, the benefits will disappear.
Other Possible Benefits
When children are involved, the benefit equation changes significantly. If an insured worker is disabled or dies while collecting SSDI, a spouse (or former spouse) can gain access to those SSDI benefits if they’re caring for children who are under the age of 16.
In cases where the child is disabled, those benefits can continue until the child is 22. If you continue to work while getting benefits, however, Social Security does reduce your allotment. High earners may see a complete loss of benefits.
How Much Is the Check?
As long as the disabled worker is still alive, the spouse can receive 50% of the disabled worker’s primary amount. The total amount cannot exceed 150% of the disabled worker’s monthly benefit. A surviving spouse typically receives between 75% and 100% of the deceased worker’s monthly amount. A death benefit is also available, and it’s usually at least a few hundred dollars.
Maximizing Those Dollars
So, how can you get the most out of your benefits? It may involve a closer look at your finances. Imagine, for example, the spouse who is the higher earning of the two is eligible for full benefits, but feels like he or she can delay until age 70. That’s a good bet, even if the other spouse is on disability, as he earns an extra 8% as long as he waits past age 70, so that would mean higher survivor benefits for the spouse.
If the disabled individual was the higher earner, though, it may be best to suspend benefits when he or she hits full retirement age and earn that 8%.There are also ways to restrict an application to help increase the overall benefits received.
Draw Social Security Now or Wait?
Understanding when the right time might be to draw social security can be difficult. Spouse benefits are only available in the amount of 50% of your primary insurance amount. For example, if your spouse was currently getting $1800, you would only be entitled to $900.
Moreover, you must be at least 62 unless you are disabled. To get the maximum benefit, there are a few things to understand. First, understand that survivor benefits replace spousal benefits once the individual receiving those benefits dies. The maximum survivor benefit is achieved if you delay claiming until age 70 and accumulates the maximum delayed retirement credits.
The reality is that Social Security is a complex system and there are many confusing issues, particularly when disability benefits and spousal benefits are involved. Understanding your unique setting and what might work for your family can be difficult, and the Social Security Administration isn’t always the most helpful about the various nuances that are typically involved in these cases.
Instead, your best bet is to work with a dedicated Social Security attorney who can help you get the benefits you deserve and help advise you on the right time to apply.
To learn more about what we can do to help, contact us today.