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Social Security Disability Benefits for Spouse

by Megan Roth5 min read
Social Security Disability Benefits for Spouse

When your application for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits has been approved and you start receiving your benefits, some family members may also qualify to receive benefits on your account. These family members include your spouse or divorced spouse, children, disabled children and/or disabled adult child aged below 22. The following are the things you need to know about Social Security disability benefits for spouse or divorced spouse.


Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits for Spouse

 If you are receiving your SSDI benefits, your spouse may be entitled to receive benefits according to your earnings if you meet the following requirements:


  • Spouse is aged 62 years and above


Your spouse may receive benefits based on your record if he/she is aged 62 or older, unless your spouse can receive a higher benefit amount on his/her own earnings record. However, if your spouse receives spousal benefits before he/she reaches FRA (full retirement age), then he/she may get an early retirement penalty. This penalty will then lower his/her benefit. But this condition is not applicable for spouses who care for children under 16 years of age and are entitled to Social Security disability benefits for children.


  • Spouse is caring for a minor child


If your spouse is caring for a child aged 16 or below, he/she may be entitled to receive benefits based on your earnings record. A minor child’s dependent benefit will end by the time he/she turns 18 years old. However, your spouse will stop receiving benefits when the child turns 16 years old, unless your spouse is eligible to receive retirement benefits or widow/widower’s benefits.


But if a spouse who receives benefits based on this eligibility condition is working, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may reduce some of the spousal benefit amount. For 2017, the income limit is $16,920 or $1,410 per month. This means that spouses who earn more than the said amount will be subject to the Social Security benefits deduction. The benefits will be reduced by $1 for each $2 earned above the income limit. 


  • Spouse is caring for a disabled child


If this is the case, your spouse may collect Social Security disability benefits even if the disabled child reaches 16 years of age or above. But under this condition, you should be able to prove that your disabled child is under your spouse’s care and that he/she has the parental responsibility in caring for the disabled child. However, for spouses who are caring for a disabled child aged above 22, the disability should have begun before the child turned 22. Otherwise, the spouse may not be eligible to receive benefits under this condition.


Benefit Amount

Social Security disability benefits for spouse can go up to 50 percent of the benefit amount you are receiving every month. But Social Security puts a limit to the amount your family can receive, which depends on your total disability benefit amount and the number of family members who are eligible to collect benefits on your earnings record.


Eligibility for social security disability for spouse


The amount varies, but typically, you and your family can receive about 150 to 180 percent of your Social Security disability benefit. If the total benefits you will receive is more than your family limit, SSA will reduce the benefits your family members will receive. However, your benefit will not change. 


To increase your chances of getting a payout you may want to consider hiring a social security disability attorney.