Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging experience, made even more complicated when they were a significant financial provider for your family. To assist families in Oklahoma facing this situation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers options for survivor disability benefits to eligible relatives, including those not afflicted by disabilities themselves. In some instances, you might even be able to claim these benefits while also receiving SSDI benefits for yourself.
Our team of experienced Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers specializes in handling various disability law claims. From the initial application to appealing wrongful denials, we stand by our clients throughout the process. We understand that the legal aspects can be bewildering, especially during such trying times. However, Social Security survivor benefits are available to help ease the financial burdens.
Eligibility for Social Security Survivor Benefits
If the deceased family member had contributed sufficiently to Social Security, their surviving spouse, former spouse, unmarried children, or dependent parents may qualify for monthly survivor benefits. What many aren’t aware of is that these benefits can be received whether or not the survivor is disabled. Additionally, in some cases, eligibility may exist even if the deceased was not receiving SSDI or retirement benefits at the time of their passing.
Which Family Members Can Claim Social Security Survivor Benefits?
The Social Security Administration extends survivor benefits to various family members, including:
- Widow or Widower: A spouse who was married to the deceased for at least nine months can begin receiving full retirement benefits at the retirement age. Reduced Social Security benefits can also be claimed as early as age 60 (age 50 if disabled).
- Divorced Spouse: Former spouses aged 60 or older may be eligible if the marriage lasted at least ten years. Those caring for a child of the deceased under 16 may bypass the age and length-of-marriage requirements. However, remarriage disqualifies ex-spouses unless the remarriage occurred after reaching age 60 (age 50 if disabled).
- Unmarried Children: Children of the deceased under 18 (or up to 19 if they’re attending full-time elementary or secondary school) can receive survivor benefits. Under certain circumstances, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, or adopted children may also qualify.
- Dependent Parents: Parents aged 62 or older can receive survivor benefits if the deceased provided at least 50 percent of their support. This includes natural parents, legal step-parents, or adoptive parents, provided they became the deceased’s parent before age 16.
The SSA also offers a one-time death benefit payment of $255 to eligible spouses or children under 18. To qualify, the deceased must have worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security benefits, and survivors must apply within two years from the date of death. Moreover, if disability is a factor, additional survivor benefits might be available.
Understanding Social Security Survivor Disability Benefits
Certain survivor benefits are exclusively available to those with disabilities or caring for someone with a disability, including:
- Spouse or Partner: A spouse may be eligible for survivor benefits at age 50 if they have a disability that began before or within seven years after the deceased’s death but before reaching age 60. Other circumstances, such as caring for a disabled child who receives survivor benefits, may also allow the surviving spouse to start receiving benefits at any age. In cases where someone becomes disabled and lacks enough credits for SSDI, they may use the deceased spouse’s eligibility for benefits.
- Ex-Husband or Ex-Wife: An ex-spouse caring for a child under 16 or a disabled child of the deceased with a disability is exempt from the ten-year marriage requirement.
- Unmarried Children: A child disabled before age 22 can receive full survivor disability benefits.
Even if you’re already receiving benefits as a spouse, you can apply for Social Security Disability death benefits, which will automatically convert to survivor benefits once the death is officially reported. Survivors who are also eligible for retirement benefits but haven’t applied for them can apply for either benefit now and switch to the other later.
Questions About Survivor Disability Benefits? Consult Our Tulsa Social Security Lawyers
Claiming survivor disability benefits is a vital step toward adjusting to life after the loss of a loved one. At our law firm in Oklahoma, we are disability attorneys who understand the importance of family. We are dedicated to helping our clients maximize their Social Security survivor disability benefits during these challenging times. Contact us today if you have questions about survivor disability benefits.