Navigating the process of Social Security for Montana widows
When a spouse dies, the absence of that person is felt keenly. In addition to the emotional loss, many people experience a significant financial loss. Widows who were previously dependent upon their husband’s income or Social Security payments may find themselves at a loss as to how they will make do financially.
When a disabled person passes away, their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments can be paid to their dependents in certain situations. This includes not only the person’s spouse but also their children. In some cases, those funds can even be paid to their dependent parents.
SSDI is a type of payment made on a monthly basis to disabled individuals, provided they have enough work history. In the event the person who was receiving those benefits passes away, the surviving spouse may be able to receive disabled widow benefits. To receive those benefits, your spouse would need to have been considered currently insured before their disability occurred.
If you have questions about your rights, we strongly recommend consulting our Montana Social Security attorneys as soon as possible. In the meantime, here’s some information that may help you.
Eligibility guidelines for government benefits for widows
There are multiple ways a widow might qualify for benefits. The various eligibility categories have an impact on the percentage of the benefit that a widow or widower would be able to collect:
- Those who care for a child younger than 16 years of age may be able to receive up to 75 percent of their spouse’s SSDI benefits.
- Those who are a minimum of 50 years of age and who are also disabled may be able to receive up to 71.5 percent of their spouse’s SSDI benefits. The widow or widower must be able to prove that their disability began before or within 7 years of the death of their spouse (the prescribed period).
- Those who are at least 60 years of age may be able to receive between 71.5 percent and 99 percent of their spouse’s SSDI benefits, provided they have not yet reached full retirement age.
- Those who have reached full retirement age may be eligible to receive up to 100 percent of their spouse’s SSDI benefits.
If you’re still uncertain as to how much you may qualify to receive, using a Social Security benefits calculator may help.
Widows and widowers are typically able to receive survivor’s benefits. Those benefits are based on the earning record of their spouse with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Such benefits would typically start when you attain the age of 60.
In the event you are disabled, you may be eligible to begin receiving survivor’s benefits at an earlier age. Such benefits are known as “disabled widow benefits.” In order to qualify, your spouse must have worked a sufficient number of years and have paid into the Social Security system.
There may be some exceptions to this rule.
For instance, if the widow also received parent benefits while caring for the children of the deceased, then the prescribed period may begin when the parent’s benefits end. Through this rule, the eligibility period in which the widow is able to apply for benefits is greatly lengthened.
In the event that a widow/er becomes disabled immediately following the death of a spouse—but they didn’t turn 50 within 7 years of the death of the spouse—they wouldn’t be eligible to receive benefits until they reached 60.
When it comes to the definition of disabled, a surviving widow or widower must be able to prove that their disability prevents them from being able to perform a significant amount of work. Generally speaking, they must meet a disability listed by the SSA or be able to prove that there are no jobs they would be able to perform.
The SSA maintains a vocation profile that can be used for the purposes of identifying whether an individual is disabled or not. Spouses who are at least age 55, who don’t have any past relevant work, who didn’t attain a formal education beyond the 11th grade and who can demonstrate they have a severe impairment may be classified as disabled.
A severe impairment is considered one that would seriously restrict one’s ability to perform the activities required to work in most jobs. Such activities would include seeing, speaking, hearing, standing, sitting, walking, lifting, pulling and the ability to follow simple directions.
Exceptions to eligibility for surviving spouse benefits
It should be noted that in the following situations, you may not qualify to receive benefits:
- If you remarry before attaining the age of 60.
- If through your own work history, your retirement benefits are actually higher.
- If you are employed, your benefits may be reduced.
- If your marriage to your deceased spouse was less than 9 months prior to their death. An exception may be made if your spouse’s death was the result of a violent accident.