STEPS TO BEING DISABLED FOR WIDOW(ER)’S BENEFITS
In a previous blog I discussed Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. Additionally, there is another type of disability claim for Widow(er)’s benefits. The requirements for these types of claims differ from regular disability claims. A Widow(er)’s Benefits claim is based on the record of a deceased spouse rather than your own record.
The first step for determining if you qualify for a Widow(er)’s claim is you must be between the ages of 50 to 60 years old. Once you attain age 60 and older, you may file a Widow’s claim without being disabled. However, you only qualify for the monetary benefits and will not receive any Medicare entitlement. If you are determined to be disabled, then you receive monetary benefits and have Medicare entitlement. You only have a seven (7) year period of time from the date of death of the spouse to meet these requirements. An example of this is…if your husband of 20 years dies when you are 48 years old on July 1, 2017. In this case, you will have from July 1, 2017, the date of death, through the end of July of 2024, the end of the 7 year prescribed period, to become disabled and attain age 50 in order to file a Widow’s claim. You must additionally meet all the requirements for being determined to be a disabled Widow.
The second step is to prove your relationship to the deceased. You must be a widow(er), surviving divorced spouse, or disabled widow(er). To be determined to be a legal spouse you have to have been 1) married to the spouse at the time of death with a valid marriage having lasted at least 9 months, 2) be a putative spouse for those states that recognize the same rights if you and the deceased presented yourselves as legally married based on good faith but never had a solemnization. Alabama is no longer a state which recognizes putative relationships. The putative relationship had to have lasted 10 years or longer and be able to be proven. 3) If you are a surviving divorced spouse, you must have been married for at least 10 years before the divorce was final. If you are divorced and remarry after longer than a 1 year separation, then the 10 year period has to be restarted. (i.e. if you are married for 5 years, divorced for 2 years, and remarry for another 5 years and get divorced. Then you are not an eligible divorced spouse).
The third step in determining if you qualify for a Widow(er)’s Benefits claim is you must be disabled. The rules for determining disability still apply as in any disability benefits claim.
A few additional requirements are that you cannot be remarried to a different spouse. If you did remarry and are now divorced, then the remarriage needed to have occurred after age 50 AND you had to have been disabled at the time of the remarriage. Additionally, you can be age 60 and if you meet the other requirements, remarriage will not affect your claim for Widow(er)’s benefits.
If you meet all of these requirements, you may file a claim for Widow(er)’s Disability Benefits (WDB) under the deceased worker. The worker needed to have been insured on their own record at the time of their death. If you have worked, you may file a claim for disability benefits under your own record and the record of the deceased, however, you will only draw the higher of the two records. Additionally, the 5 month waiting period still applies in any DWB claim, as it does in a regular Disability Insurance Benefits claim.
Determining if you meet the requirements for being a Widow or Widower on a deceased worker can be easily determined by the Social Security Administration. A Widow(er)’s claim cannot be completed online, and you must contact your local office to file these types of claims. If the Social Security Administration determines you are an eligible Widow or Divorced Spouse of a worker, but still deny your claim based on the fact that you are not disabled, please call our office. One of the experienced disability representatives at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. can assist you in attaining the Widow(er)’s benefits you deserve. Call 251-343-1111 for a free consultation. Gardberg & Kemmerly specializes in helping the injured and disabled in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana.