When a person suffering from a disabling medical condition qualifies for disability benefits, certain family members, including the spouse, may also receive financial assistance. Social Security Disability (SSD) spousal benefits help ensure the economic well-being of those with limited or no work history due to disability or caregiving responsibilities.
To qualify for spousal benefits, the applicant must meet certain eligibility criteria and be married to, or in some cases, divorced from, an individual eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Experienced Greenville Social Security Disability lawyers answer frequently asked questions about SSD spousal benefits. At Pilzer Klein, we have over 50 years of combined legal experience serving those in need; let us help you as we have helped many others. Call us today to discuss the details of your case.
Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability Spousal Benefits?
Spousal benefits are payable when the spouse reaches the age of 62 (or older) unless they are entitled to a higher Social Security benefit based on their own earnings record. In such cases, the benefit amount is subject to a permanent reduction calculated as a percentage, which depends on the number of months leading up to their full retirement age.
Additionally, these benefits are available to spouses at any age if they are actively caring for children under the age of 16 or if the child became disabled prior to turning 22 and qualifies for Social Security benefits. This provision ensures that spouses can receive support even when caring for dependent children, regardless of age.
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What Is the Qualifying Relationship Status?
The qualifying relationship status for Social Security Disability spousal benefits is based on the legal marital ties between the applicant and the worker eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
To be eligible for these benefits, one must typically be the current spouse of the disabled worker, which means they are legally married to each other. They must also be married to the beneficiary for at least one continuous year. However, divorced spouses may also qualify under certain conditions.
An experienced South Carolina Social Security Disability qualifications lawyer can review your case and determine if you are eligible.
Can Divorced Spouses Qualify?
A divorced spouse can receive benefits under certain conditions, even if the disabled worker has since remarried. The amount paid to a divorced spouse does not typically reduce the main recipient’s benefits or the amount paid to their children or current spouse.
To be eligible for benefits, a divorced spouse must meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 62 years of age.
- Have been married to the disability benefits recipient for at least 10 years.
- Is currently unmarried.
- Is currently not eligible for the same or a higher benefit amount through their own or someone else’s Social Security record.
What Documents and Information Are Needed for the Application Process?
Typically, applicants must provide personal identification documents, such as their Social Security number, birth certificate, and proof of citizenship or legal residency. Additionally, they should be prepared to show marriage certificates to establish the qualifying relationship or divorce decrees if applicable.
For the complete list of documents you may need, consult a South Carolina Social Security Disability applications lawyer. After reviewing the details of your case, they will help you gather the relevant documents and file all the necessary paperwork.
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Is There a Limit for How Much Benefits a Spouse Can Receive?
If the spouse is eligible for benefits based on their own work record, they will first receive that amount. If the benefit on the disabled worker’s record is higher, the spouse will receive an extra amount to make the combined benefits equal to the higher amount.
If the spouse starts getting benefits between the age of 62 and their full retirement age, the sum will be reduced based on the time until their full retirement age. When they reach full retirement age, their spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of the disabled worker’s full retirement amount.
Spouses born before January 2, 1954, who are already at full retirement age, may opt to get only the spouse’s benefit and postpone their own retirement benefit. However, for those born on or after this date, choosing one benefit means applying for all retirement or spousal benefits.
Is There a Limit for How Much Benefits a Family Can Receive?
Every family member could qualify for a monthly sum of a maximum of 50% of the disabled worker’s benefits. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) places a cap on the amount that can be awarded to a family.
While the maximum amount may vary on the details of each case, generally, this is usually between 150% and 180% of the disabled worker’s disability benefits.
A Social Security Disability Lawyer Will Help With Spousal Benefits
Navigating the SSDI benefits program without legal representation is difficult and risky. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney will guide you through the application process and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
At Pilzer Klein, we understand that Social Security Disability benefits can act like a lifeline. We want to help you and your loved ones have the financial resources you need for a better life. If you have any questions about spousal benefits, call our law firm.