No matter the circumstances, losing a spouse can be devastating, both financially and emotionally.
However, matters can feel especially challenging when the surviving spouse also has a disability and relied on the income of their spouse as a result.
In these scenarios, you may be entitled to disabled widow benefits to help you move forward in the aftermath of your spouse’s passing.
If you’ve recently lost a spouse and are worried about the implications of losing their financial support as a result, know that you may have options to pursue.
Use our guide below to learn more about disabled widow insurance benefits, whether you might qualify, and what steps to take to best protect and pursue your rights.
Then, give the Cottrell Law Office a call to discuss your options and see how we can help you move forward.
What Are Disabled Widows’ Benefits?
Disabled widow’s benefits are a type of Social Security death benefit funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides valuable income to disabled individuals whose spouses have passed away.
The purpose of these benefits is to support widows and widowers, generally referred to as surviving spouses, of deceased workers who had earned enough Social Security credits at the time of their death.
That said, a surviving spouse will be entitled to disabled widow benefits only if certain conditions are met.
Who Qualifies for Disabled Widow’s Benefits?
Under Section 401 of the Social Security Handbook, a widow or widower is typically entitled to disabled widow’s insurance benefits only if the following requirements are met:
- Surviving spouse is at least 50 years of age but not yet 60 and meets the disability-related requirements in Section 513 of the Security Handbook;
- Surviving spouse was married to the deceased spouse for at least nine months prior to their passing;
- Deceased worker died fully insured;
- Surviving spouse is currently unmarried, unless the marriage can be disregarded; and
- Surviving spouse is not entitled to an equal or higher Social Security retirement benefit based on their own status as a worker.
Note, however, that certain exceptions to the 9-month marriage requirement do exist.
If you’re not sure whether you are eligible for disabled widow benefits through the SSA, speak with an attorney at the Cottrell Law Office today to discuss your rights and options in more detail.
How to Apply for Disabled Widow’s Benefits
To apply for disabled widow insurance benefits, parties must complete and submit an Application for Widow’s or Widower’s Insurance Benefits (Form SSA-10).
Due to the amount of information and documentation needed to complete the application, it is generally a good idea to review the materials you’ll need to speed up the application process where possible.
Note, however, that the SSA currently does not allow online applications for survivor’s benefits.
Amount of Disabled Widow Benefits
The amount of any disabled widow benefits you may be entitled to receive will ultimately depend on the amount of earnings of the deceased spouse.
This amount is then used to calculate the specific percentage that the widow or widower will recover.
The more the deceased spouse paid into Social Security, the greater the benefits to the disabled surviving spouse will be.
The precise amount of benefits received will vary from case to case.
However, a recent SSA publication indicated the following estimates for typical claims for survivor’s benefits by widows or widowers in the following circumstances:
- At full retirement age or older: Generally receive 100% of the worker’s basic benefit amount.
- Age 60 or older but under full retirement age: Generally receive 71% – 99% of the worker’s basic benefit amount.
- Any age but with a child under the age of 16: Generally receive 75% of the worker’s benefit amount.
Nevertheless, consider speaking with an experienced Social Security disability attorney in your state to discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding your case for a more detailed assessment of the benefits you may be entitled to receive.
Speak with a Disabled Widow Benefits Attorney Today
If you have questions about disabled widow benefits and are wondering where to go from here, look no further than the Cottrell Law Office.
We pride ourselves on providing our clients with zealous legal representation while also treating them with the care, compassion, and attention their case deserves.
With more than three decades of experience helping those in need, we are confident that we have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you too.