When a disability strikes the primary breadwinner in a family, the entire family may experience the negative ramifications of this change in lifestyle. For this reason, the Social Security Administration offers dependent or auxiliary benefits to family members of disabled individuals who may need additional support. Eligibility typically varies depending on the nature of the familial relationship and the overall needs of the family, but spouses are one group of dependents who may be entitled to additional Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you are a spouse or former spouse of a disabled Massachusetts resident, the experienced Social Security attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. can assist you in evaluating your eligibility for dependent benefits and guide you through the application process.Qualifying for Spousal Benefits
Unlike other dependents, such as children, who may qualify for SSDI dependent benefits simply by showing that they are a family member who relied on the disabled individual in their family for support, only certain spouses may qualify for benefits. In order to be eligible for benefits if you are a current spouse, you must be able to show that you are 62 years old or older, are caring for the minor child of a spouse who is under 16 years of age, or are caring for a disabled child of your spouse, regardless of age.
Alternatively, if you are a former spouse of a disabled individual, you may be entitled to spousal benefits if you are at least 62 years of age, the prior marriage lasted at least 10 years, you have not remarried, and you are not otherwise eligible to collect Social Security benefits through another avenue, such as widow(er) benefits. Thus, although qualifying for spousal benefits as a former or divorced spouse is more difficult, it is not impossible to do.
The amount a spouse can receive in SSDI benefits from the Social Security Administration varies depending on age and other circumstances. As a general rule, a spouse cannot receive more than 50% of the monthly amount that the disabled individual is currently receiving. Additionally, the spousal benefit is subject to the maximum family amount imposed by the SSA, which keeps total family benefits from exceeding approximately 150% of the principal disabled individual’s benefits. Thus, if the spouse is applying in addition to multiple children, each family member’s benefits may be more limited. Finally, if your spouse is 62 years old or older and entitled to benefits on this basis, the amount received may be reduced if the spouse seeks benefits before reaching full retirement age. This is a more complicated calculation that an attorney can assist you in computing.Discuss Your Application for SSDI with a Massachusetts Attorney
When you or a loved one is dealing with a disability, it is important to understand all of the options for support that may be available to you and your family. While a sudden injury or the progress of a disabling disease can be isolating and difficult, every Social Security applicant or recipient should know that he or she is not alone. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our SSDI lawyers can work closely with claimants throughout Massachusetts to evaluate their needs as both an individual and a family. We also serve individuals in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, including in Providence. Contact us at (800) 367-0871 or through our online form for a free initial consultation.