Some disabled widows and widowers may be eligible for monthly compensation following the death of a spouse
Sadly, many married persons will eventually face the loss of a spouse at some point in their lives. Hopefully, this will occur late in life. For those who are already retired or disabled and receiving Social Security retirement benefits, this can mean a significant change in their monthly income based on the Social Security tax records of either partner.
For individuals who are married and the passing spouse is the only one who received SSA benefits, household income will be seriously affected as well. This is especially true when the surviving partner is under 60 years of age. The Social Security Administration rules for extended benefits to widows and widowers are specific when benefits are adjusted, and many are not eligible for any spousal support after their partner dies.
All individuals whose lives are affected in this manner should understand how the Social Security Administration makes these rulings because it affects many disabled widows and widowers. In some cases, it may help to meet with a Social Security attorney to fully understand your rights and benefits.
Qualifying for Social Security benefits
The first question many surviving spouses have is if they qualify to receive any Social Security Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits (DWB) payments at all. The first step in the determination process is whether or not there is a disability. The Social Security Administration’s rules for disability determination change at age 50 for those seeking benefits, and those who are not previously designated as disabled will need to qualify in some manner.
In order to receive any benefits from a deceased spouse, the surviving spouse must be between 50 and 60 years old and determined disabled according to SSA rules and regulations. This means that those who are not disabled should have a full medical evaluation and file as soon as possible when the death of a spouse is imminent.
When filing for Social Security benefits is not completed until after a spouse’s death, the determination must be made within 7 years of the date of passing. This timeline can also include caring for the biological dependents of the deceased spouse, as well when they are still in the home.
The deceased spouse must also have met the requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance in order to qualify under SSDI. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is the alternate disability program, but it is evaluated on individual health and on an annual basis with specific low-threshold means-tested qualifications for receiving benefits.
Benefit rate of pay for SSI
The rate of pay for surviving spouses who opt to receive Social Security based on the deceased spouse’s benefit is 71.5%. While this is a further reduction in monthly household income, those who fall below the poverty line in authorized benefits could also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income if they don’t have many personal assets.
There are certain exemptions when assets are being calculated, including one dependable vehicle of significant value and ownership of a primary dwelling where the recipient lives regularly. Qualifying for SSI also typically includes qualifications for Medicaid, which can also be a benefit later when nursing home care may be needed.
Medicaid insurance is a 100% paid program, and (in some ways) it is better than Medicare. Those whose Social Security income is severely impacted by a spouse’s death may also be eligible for government waiver of their Medicare insurance premium and supplemental Part D plans that are required for full health insurance protection.
Established DWB recipients
Social Security disabled widow recipients are not determined by disability, but by the fact they are age at least 50 but younger than 60.
Each spouse has their own individual benefit award prior to death without any deduction for cohabitation, but the surviving spouse will have their benefit increased to the amount that the deceased spouse was receiving in most cases. This still results in a significant reduction in monthly payment benefits. But, it may also have a positive impact on eligibility for other government programs such as subsidized housing because rent obligations in certified housing facilities could decrease.
Consult with a Georgia Social Security attorney
The truth about how Social Security benefits change after the death of a spouse is that the process can be complicated, and it is always best to approach the looming issue early when it is clear that death will occur sooner rather than later.
Being prepared is always best, and consulting with an experienced Georgia Social Security attorney is always a good decision in getting prepared. This is especially important for those who are under age 60 and have a definitive medical impairment that could result in a disability determination when the case is evaluated.
It is important to remember that the SSA moves very slowly when approving disability claims, and time can be of the essence for many married couples. Always select a disability attorney with a strong track record of results for their clients, a lawyer who thoroughly understands how the death of a spouse impacts the ongoing life of the surviving partner.