The death of a spouse is a very difficult event for most people, particularly on an emotional level. It can also bring on financial challenges, for some, due to reduced income, whether from an employer, benefits or other sources.
When a spouse who has been receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security income dies, it isn't uncommon for the surviving spouse to wonder whether they can continue receiving that income.
If a deceased spouse had been receiving Supplemental Security Income, the surviving spouse will not be able to continue receiving those payments. They may, however, be able to qualify for SSDI themselves.
If the deceased spouse collected Social Security disability income, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive some or all of the spouse's benefits. Commonly, 100 percent of the benefits can be received by the surviving spouse only if he or she is in full retirement. Those who are 60 or older may be able to receive a percentage of their spouse's SSDI, ranging from over 70 percent up to 99 percent depending on their age. A surviving spouse may also qualify for a percentage of their spouse's benefits if they care for dependent children under 16 years of age or are at least 50 years old and live with a disability themselves.
Eligibility for survivor benefits can be altered by the surviving spouse's eligibility for Social Security benefits, so it is important to speak with a qualified attorney to determine what options are on the table.
Source: Opposing Views, "The Benefits of Social Security Disability When a Spouse Dies," Scott Rutherford, March 2, 2013