Social Security Survivor (Death) Benefits for Spouses (Widows & Widowers)
Collecting Spouses Social Security Disability Death Benefits in California
(Widower and Widows’ Survivor Benefits)
If you have lost a family member to an injury or illness, our hearts go out to you. We understand that in addition to grieving, you must now readjust financially and figure out how to make ends meet, without the help of your loved one’s benefits.
Our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys have represented hundreds of families like yours in California, helping them obtain the survivors benefits to which they are entitled.
If a disabled person who was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) passes away, the benefits that they were receiving can go his or her dependents, including: a spouse, children, and in some cases even elderly parents. These benefits are known as either “survivor benefits” or “death benefits”.
This article covers the Social Security survivor benefits available to spouses (widows and widowers). Next month we will discuss Children & Grandchildren’s survivor benefits.
Survivor benefits are only available under Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) – which are payments that are made to individuals who have sufficient work history. Survivor benefits are NOT available to the dependent relatives of Supplemental Security (SSI) recipients.
Surviving Spouses are Eligible to Receive Social Security Disability Survivors Benefits (Death Benefits). Attorneys Los Angeles
If a spouse who was receiving SSDI benefits passes away, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive widow’s or widower’s benefits.
Different “Categories” of Widow & Widower Social Security Death Benefit
Different “categories” of widow/widower benefit eligibility affect the percentage of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit that you are entitled to collect. They are:
- If the surviving spouse cares for a child under the age of 16 years old who receives survivor SSDI benefits from your deceased spouse, they will receive 75% of your deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.
- If the surviving spouse is at least 50 years old and disabled – and their disability started before their spouse died or within seven years of your spouse’s death – they will receive 71.5% of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.
- If the surviving spouse is at least 60 years old but not yet full retirement age, they will receive 71.5% – 99% of the deceased spouse’s SSDI benefit.
- If the surviving spouse is at least full retirement age, they will receive 100% of the spouse’s SSDI benefit
There are some “exceptions” that apply to surviving spouse benefits.Los Angeles Attorney
- If the surviving spouse remarries before the age of 60 years old (or 50 years old if they are disabled), they cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse.
- If the widow or widower is of retirement age – AND the benefit that they could receive based on their own work history is higher than the money that they receive from their deceased spouse’s SSDI benefits -they can choose to receive whichever payment is higher.
- If the surviving spouse is receiving benefits based on caring for a child under 16 years old who receives SSDI benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earnings record, the benefits to the widow will generally end when the child turns 16 years old.
- However, if the child is disabled and continues to be in the care of the widow and receive SSDI benefits on the deceased parent’s earnings record, the widow can continue to receive SSDI payments as well.
- If the surviving spouse works while collecting a widow / widower benefit, their monthly benefit may be reduced, depending on your age and your earned income.
- In most cases, to be eligible for the surviving spouse benefit, the widow must have been married to the deceased spouse for at least 9 months. But there are many exceptions to this rule; including if the deceased spouse died due to a violent accident.
Note that children under the age of 18, and disabled children and children in high school over the age of 18 may also be eligible to collect survivor benefits from their deceased parent’s SSDI. Additionally, dependent grandchildren as well as dependent elderly parents may also be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Survivors Benefits (Death Benefits) under some circumstances. These topics are covered in more detail in a separate article.
Our Disability Attorneys Represent Spouses (Widows & Widowers) in Social Security Disability Death Benefit Cases Los Angeles
Our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys have represented hundreds of widows and widowers in California, helping them obtain the survivors benefits to which they are entitled.
If you have lost a husband or wife, and you believe you may be entitled to Social Security Survivor benefits that you are not receiving, call our caring, experienced attorneys. We help you understand your rights, and ensure that you receive the maximum spousal survivor benefits for which you are eligible.