Robert D. Paulbeck, Attorney at Law
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Can you collect your deceased spouse's disability benefits?

The list of conditions that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to be disabilities is limited. In order to qualify to receive monthly payments, an individual must have a terminal illness or expect to be unable to work for at least a year. Once you start receiving disability payments, you're ineligible to make outside income. This leads many to ask whether they qualify to receive benefits once belonging to a deceased spouse.

Trenton spouses who were married to their husbands or wives for at least 10 years and never remarried are generally able to receive survivor benefits on behalf of a spouse who formerly received disability payments before their death.

The surviving Michigan spouse can collect this amount even if they had long been divorced at the time of the ex's passing. In this case, the SSA will base the survivor benefits that they award on what the deceased spouse's full retirement payment would have been. The only caveat to doing this is that you have to wait until your spouse would have turned 62.

It's at this age that you can also begin collecting your own Social Security benefits. In order to qualify for them, you'll need to have worked for at least 10 years and have satisfied the minimum earnings requirement to do so.

When requesting your own Social Security or survivor benefits, you have to be cautious not to claim them too soon as you may face a penalty for doing so. You may even want to start receiving your own benefits and then ultimately transition into receiving survivor benefits if you determine that the payout amount is higher.

If you're still working and can afford your expenses without receiving Social Security, then you may increase your payout by as much as 8 percent by delaying claiming your benefits until when you really need them.

Making sense of whether you have a condition that qualifies as a disability or successfully applying to receive your former spouse's benefits can be difficult to navigate. An attorney can help answer your questions so that you'll know what steps to take in your case next.

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