Spousal Benefits when Married to a Disability Recipient

Posted December 7, 2018 by Premier Disability Services

If your spouse receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may be entitled to Social Security spousal benefits under certain circumstances. You may be eligible for benefits if you meet one of these three requirements:

  • You are at least 62 years of age (unless the total benefits you would receive from your earnings record is higher),
  • you are caring for your spouse’s minor child (under the age of 16), or
  • you are caring for your spouse’s disabled child (regardless of whether or not they are over the age of 16).

If you are eligible for spousal benefits, you and any dependent children may receive up to 50% of the total SSDI benefits your spouse receives. This means that the sum total of benefits you and your dependent children receive will equal no more than 50%—you and your dependent children do not each receive up to 50% of the total benefits earned by your spouse.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will first pay you any benefits you have earned from your own earnings record. If the amount of benefits you would receive based on your spouse’s disability benefits is higher, however, the SSA will combine the benefits to ensure you receive the greater amount of benefits. It is important to note that, although you may be eligible for spousal benefits at the age of 62, your benefits will be permanently reduced if you apply for them prior to your full retirement age. This does not apply if you are caring for a dependent, however.

If you were previously married to an individual who received SSDI, you may still be entitled to spousal benefits. In order to be eligible, the following must apply to your situation.

  • You must have been married for at least 10 years,
  • you must be at least 62 years old,
  • you must be unmarried (unless your new spouse is also eligible for SSDI benefits)
  • and you cannot receive any benefits based on your personal earnings record in an amount greater than or equal to your former spouse’s.

Individuals who receive SSDI and have an ex-spouse who is eligible for spousal benefits should note that, should they remarry, any benefits their new spouse receives will not be impacted by the benefits their former spouse receives.

If you believe you are eligible for spousal benefits, you must contact the SSA. The SSA will require your birth certificate, Social Security number, marriage certificate and information about any previous marriages, if applicable.

From: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®