Many times a spouse chooses to stay at home while his or her spouse goes to work. The working spouse provides the household income while the non-working spouse does things such as care for the children, takes care of the household chores, etc. But what happens when the working spouse passes away, leaving the non-working spouse with no source of income? This is still a common problem, but it isn’t as prevalent as in years past since many households currently have two wage earners.
As of 2017, there were approximately 5 million widows or widowers who received monthly Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse's earnings record. And, for many of those survivors, particularly aged women, those benefits are keeping them out of poverty. But how can you draw these benefits?
The earliest a widow or widower can start receiving Social Security survivor’s benefits is age 60. Although receiving the survivor benefits at age 60 would give you a reduced benefit, it is one type of income in which you may be eligible. However, if the widow or widower is disabled, he or she may be able to receive benefits as early as age 50. The widow/widower may use his or her deceased spouses work credits and draw the amount that the deceased spouse would have been entitled to draw.
Also, interesting to note is that if you are a widow or a widower and you become remarried, then the new marriage will not affect your ability to draw from your deceased spouse's credits. The only requirement to be eligible for the non-medical rules for Disabled Widow(er) benefits is that you must have been married for at least 10 years. To qualify for disability benefits the widow(er) and/or a surviving divorced spouse, has to prove that the disability occurred before the end of a defined prescribed period as determined under the Social Security regulations. It is for Social Security to determine if the disability can be proven before the end date of the defined period. This is a very difficult area of Social Security law. It can be confusing when trying to explain this in a few short paragraphs on a website. We recommend that you meet with one of our Montgomery Social Security lawyers to learn what your rights are and if you have a case that may allow you to collect as a widow(er) or divorced spouse.
The medical requirements are the same. You still must prove that you suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful employment as define by the Social Security Administration in order to draw your spouse's benefits. If, however, you are also entitled to draw from your deceased spouse’s private retirement or pension fund, an off-set may be required.
In many Social Security disability cases, there is a waiting period to recover cash benefits, and this is no exception. Payment of cash benefits is subject to the same waiting period of five full consecutive calendar months. This waiting period can’t start any earlier that the later of:
- The first day of the 17th month before the filing of the Social Security disability application; or
- The first day of the 5th month before the month in which the prescribed period began.
Also, there isn’t a waiting period if the widow(er) became disabled before the age of 60m and the disability began within 84 months following the month in which any prior entitlement terminated.
Again, our attorneys know that this can be confusing especially when we are trying to sum up an entire area of the law in just a few paragraphs. However, we have had great success in recovering cash and medical benefits for spouses who are covered by these regulations.
For many years, the team at The Sellers Law Firm was asked, “Why don’t you have an office near me?” To answer the “near me” question, we created offices in Montgomery, Selma, Greenville, and Troy. Let our Montgomery Social Security lawyers, or the lawyers at our other locations, meet with you to discuss your options to recovering money and benefits from Social Security. Our consultations are always free! Call The Sellers Law Firm at 334-LAWYERS (529-9377). You may also use the “text us” link or Contact Form on the website to reach us. Remember that doing nothing, changes nothing so contact us today!