Social Security Disability benefits – widows, children and dependent parents

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

The dependents of a disabled person who could qualify for social security would be eligible to receive social security benefits under survival benefits. The program works as a sub program of the social security disability insurance program under federal rule.

Having a low income budget due to a disabled parent is one thing, but having to wait for each penny after the disabled spouse’s death is too distressing for children or a spouse who couldn’t work. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration enables the dependents of a person who could qualify for social security, receive survival benefits on their record.

To qualify for a deceased spouse’s benefits as survivors (widows or widowers), you would not only need to meet certain requirements but also prove to the SSA that you are unable to gain work under substantial gainful activity, SGA. Whatever the reason for you unable to work, you must be able to prove that medically. Also, the disease or disability should or be expected to last atleast 12 months from the period of its initial onset.

When can you apply for survivor’s benefits?

  • You can file for survivor benefits as soon as the spouse dies provided you meet the requirements as stated above. Although you can apply at any age, if you apply before the age of 60 your benefits will be reduced to a 70% as compared to if you delay the benefits until you reach full retirement age (66 or above, 50 if disabled);
  • You can file for a 100% benefits amount if you are above 50 and disabled;
  • You care for a minor child;

In addition to the benefits, you will also receive a one-time death benefit payment of $255 at the time of death, provided that you were still married with the deceased spouse at the time of death. However, you will not receive any survivor benefits in the first month of death of the deceased due to the SSA’s criteria of determining eligibility of a spouse as eligible survivors.

Also, if you remarry or are divorced and are not caring for any minor or disabled child of the deceased person – then, you may not receive any survivor benefits.

Survivor benefits calculation

If you and your spouse both had begun benefits claims, then the benefit with higher claims will continue as survivor benefits and the lower one will be stopped after the death of the other spouse.

If the couple hadn’t already started the benefits, then the higher earner of the two may wait until they reach 66 or above until age 70 to maximize their benefits. This would turn into a higher survivor benefit after their death.

You may contact a social security attorney for more details.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.