The disabled widow program was not a part of the original design of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) package. It was instituted later, after the initial plan of a lump-sum payment began to be perceived as inadequate for the needs of beneficiaries.
The new program includes benefits for three classes of widows: aged widows, widows caring for children, and disabled widows, each with their own specific requirements, although they do share the same requirements that the deceased spouse must have been fully insured.
A Fully Insured Spouse
In order for a surviving widow or widower to receive benefits, the deceased spouse must have died while fully insured. Fully insured means that they would qualify for benefits under the SSDI definition, meaning they have accumulated 40 work credits, 20 of which were acquired in the last 10 years.
In some cases, widows with children may qualify for benefits if their spouse was “currently insured” at the time of death, which means they had accumulated 6 credits in the last three years before death.
Aged widows can qualify for full benefits if they are over the age of 60, and were married to the qualifying worker for at least 10 years. If they were divorced from the worker, they cannot have remarried before the age of 60.
Widows with Children
If a widow is caring for a child of the deceased worker (including a legally-adopted stepchild), they can qualify for up to 75% of SSDI benefits as child-in-care benefits. The child must be under the age of 16, and the widow must be unmarried. If she divorced the qualifying worker, she must have been married to him for a minimum of 10 years.
A disabled widow may qualify for benefits on the basis of deceased spouse’s work record if they are age 50 or older. They must be unmarried or must have remarried after the age of 50 and after the onset of the disability. They must have been married to the qualifying worker for at least ten years, and it cannot be more than 7 years since the worker died or when the widow last received child-in-care benefits when the widow becomes disabled.
How an Attorney Can Help
An SSDI attorney can help widows understand when they may qualify for SSDI benefits on the basis of their spouse’s work record. Eligibility requirements can be very complex and hard to sort out, so an attorney can be especially helpful for widows at this stage.
An attorney can also help when filing the actual application, representing widows at hearings, and during the appeal process.
To learn whether you may be eligible for disability benefits as a widow or widower, please get your free evaluation today.