If I Lose My Spouse, Can I Collect Survivor Disability Benefits?

Tulsa Social Security Lawyer Explains SSDI Death Benefits

The death of a loved one is devastating, especially when he or she provided significant financial support to your family. To help Oklahoma families in this situation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides options for survivor disability benefits to qualifying relatives, including benefits based on disability. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to claim these benefits even if you are not disabled. You may also be able to get benefits even if you are already collecting SSDI benefits for yourself.

Our Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers have experience handling all types of disability law claims. From the initial application to appealing wrongful denials, we are there for our clients every step of the way. We know the laws can be confusing and overwhelming during an already difficult time. Still, Social Security survivor benefits are available for you to claim, which can help alleviate economic stresses.

Am I Eligible for Social Security Survivor Benefits?

If a family member who passed away paid enough into Social Security, then a spouse, former spouse, unmarried children or dependent parents of the deceased may be eligible for monthly survivor benefits. What many people do not know is that they can receive these benefits whether they have a disability or not. Additionally, in some cases, you may be eligible for benefits even if your loved one was not receiving SSDI or retirement benefits at the time of his or her death.

Examples of family members who may be eligible to receive survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration include:

  • A widow or widower. A spouse who was married to the deceased for at least nine months can begin receiving full retirement benefits at retirement age. You may also receive reduced Social Security benefits as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled).
  • Divorced spouse. A former husband or wife may be able to receive benefits if he or she is age 60 or older and the marriage lasted at least ten years. As an ex-husband or ex-wife, you do not need to meet the age or length-of-marriage rule if you are caring for a child of the deceased who is under 16. An ex-spouse cannot collect survivor benefits if he or she remarried. However, he or she can collect on the deceased’s record if the remarriage occurred after the ex-spouse reached age 60 (age 50 if disabled).
  • Unmarried children. A child of the deceased who is under 18 (or up to 19 if he or she is attending elementary or secondary school full-time) can receive survivor benefits. In certain circumstances, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren or adopted children may also qualify for these benefits.
  • Dependent parents. Parents of the deceased can receive survivor benefits if they are 62 or older, and if the deceased provided at least 50 percent of their support. Besides being the natural parent, you could also be the legal step-parent, or adoptive parent and still receive benefits if you became the deceased’s parent before they were age 16.

The SSA also provides a one-time death benefit payment of $255 to a spouse or child under 18 if they qualify. Additionally, the deceased must have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. Survivors must apply for the one-time payment within two years from the date of death. However, if you have a disability or are caring for someone with a disability, then other survivor benefits may be available. Our Tulsa disability lawyer can help you explore your eligibility for survivor disability benefits.

What Are Social Security Survivor Disability Benefits?

Some survivor benefits are only available to those with or caring for someone with a disability, such as:

  • A spouse or partner. A spouse may qualify for survivor benefits at 50 years of age if he or she has a disability and the disability began before or within seven years after the deceased died, but before the age of 60. Other circumstances may allow the surviving spouse to begin receiving benefits at any age, such as caring for a child with a disability who receives survivor benefits. For those who become disabled and do not have enough credits to qualify for SSDI, the widow or widower may be entitled to use the eligibility of the deceased spouse for benefits.
  • Ex-husband or ex-wife. An ex-husband or ex-wife does not need to meet the ten-year marriage requirement if they are caring for a child under the age of 16 or disabled of the deceased with a disability.
  • Unmarried children. A child who was disabled before the age of 22 can receive full survivor disability benefits.

You can apply to receive Social Security disability death benefits even if you already receive benefits as a spouse. Your benefits will automatically convert to survivor benefits after the death has been officially reported. Survivors should also apply if they are also eligible for retirement benefits, but have not applied on their own behalf. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other benefit at a later date.

Questions About Survivor Disability Benefits? Ask Our Tulsa Social Security Lawyers

Claiming survivor disability benefits are one small way you can begin to adjust to life after losing a loved one. Our husband and wife team of disability attorneys in Oklahoma knows the power of family. This is why we provide our clients with opportunities to maximize their Social Security survivor disability benefits.

If you need assistance with the application for survivor disability benefits or understanding your right to file a disability claim, then contact our Tulsa SSDI attorneys to receive help today.