As I mentioned yesterday, my friend’s husband died last month, leaving her to raise their two young boys. When I was researching Social Security death benefits, I also looked into Social Security disability benefits and learned the following:
- Disability benefits are (or at least seem to be) more complicated than death benefits. This appears to be due to the fact that there are a lot more factors affecting disability benefits, some of which will be discussed below.
- Your annual Social Security statement indicates whether you are eligible for disability benefits and estimates the amount. You can see a sample of this part of the statement at the SSA web site.
- Generally, Social Security disability benefits are paid to those who cannot work for a year or more due to disability. And you cannot receive benefits until you have been unable to work for at least five months.
- Disability payments continue for as long as you cannot work. Your case will be reviewed regularly, and of course, you’re obligated to report changes in your condition or circumstances.
- Your family members may be eligible for benefits based on your disability. Family members who may receive payments include your spouse,your divorced spouse, your children, and your disabled child.
- As with death benefits, your spouse may not receive disability benefits until he or she is close to retirement age, in this case, 62 or older.
- And as with death benefits, a younger spouse may receive disability benefits if he or she is caring for your child under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits. When your child turns 16, your spouse’s benefits would cease but your child would continue to receive benefits.
- Your child’s disability benefits are similar to death benefits. Your child can receive disability benefits if he or she is under age 18, 18 to 19 years old and still in high school, or over 18 with a disability that started before age 22.
For more information, check out the SSA’s Disability Planner.