In some situations, disabled widows or widowers may be able to receive survivors benefits through their spouse's earning record. The disabled widow or widower must be able to establish his or her own disability as well as meet other criteria in order to be eligible for these benefits.
The Social Security Disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC are knowledgeable in various aspects of Social Security Disability law. Contact us to schedule a free consultation for help with your disabled widow's or widower's benefits.
Requirements for Disabled Widow's Benefits
To qualify for disable widow's or widower's benefits, a claimant must meet all of the following criteria:
Be the Right Age
The disabled widow or widower must first reach the age of 50 before he or she can become eligible for these benefits. These benefits are not payable for months before the recipient reaches this age even if he or she was disabled for many years before reaching the age of 50.
The recipient must not be 60 or older.
Have a Relationship with the Decedent
The claimant must be able to demonstrate that he or she meets one of the following definitions of a spouse:
- Legal Spouse – You are a legal spouse if you were considered legally married according to law of the state you lived at the time of the decedent's death.
- Putative Spouse – You meet this definition if you have the same rights as a widow or widower based on the laws of intestacy in the state where the decedent lived at the time of his or her death.
- Deemed Spouse – You are a deemed spouse if you went through a marriage ceremony with the decedent in good faith but there was some legal error that prevented the marriage from being considered legal.
There are also additional factors involved in establishing your relationship with the decedent. For example, your marriage must have lasted for at least nine months unless you meet certain exceptions such as having a child together. You can also qualify for disabled widow's or widower's benefits if you were divorced from the decedent and your marriage lasted at least ten years.
Have a Disability
The widow or widower must have a disability that meets the definition of disability for adults, which requires the disability:
- Is expected to last at least a year or be terminal in nature
- Prevents the claimant from performing substantial gainful activity
Developed the Disability within the Prescribed Period
In order to receive disability benefits, a claimant has to be found disabled within a prescribed period of time under the law. However, this onset date can sometimes be set earlier, but the Disability Determination Services is ultimately responsible for determining if this is possible in a given case.
Submission of Application
Like with all forms of disability benefits, the claimant must submit an application to be considered for widow or widower's benefits. This application can be completed in a local office or by phone. It cannot be submitted online.
Completion of Disability Report
The claimant must complete Form SSA-3368 which includes the following:
- Information about his or her medical conditions
- Contact information
- Sources of medical evidence
Additionally, the claimant must sign medical release forms so that representatives from the Social Security Administration can gather medical information and develop his or her case.
Serve a Waiting Period
Claimants who are otherwise eligible for widow's or widower's benefits are required to serve a waiting period of five full consecutive months. It cannot be earlier than the later of the following:
- The first day of the 17th month before the claimant files for benefits
- The first day of the 5th month immediately before the month in which the prescribed period starts
There is an exception if the claimant originally became disabled before he or she turned 60 and then had a new period of disability begin within seven years from the date that he or she became no longer eligible for benefits. In this instance, the claimant does not have to serve a waiting period.
Call a Social Security Lawyer for Assistance with Your Claim
Applying for widow's or widower's benefits can be a complicated process, which is why it is critical to have an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer by your side who can walk you through each stage of the process. The Social Security lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC can help you gather medical records and other information that you need to develop your claim. We can also help you with all stages of the appeals process.
We provide a free initial consultation and work on a contingency fee agreement, so you only pay for our services if you are approved for benefits.
Call us at 1-800-503-2000 to get started on your claim today.