Dealing with a spouse passing away is extremely difficult. Alongside the expected, very difficult pressure brought on by grief and sadness, there may also be other pressures, especially if the deceased spouse provided a significant amount of income. This can be especially true if the deceased relied on benefits from a federal disability program. It may cause great financial stress if you are suddenly losing out on those benefits, so you may be wondering if you can keep your spouse’s disability benefits after they have passed away.
In Arkansas, you can continue to receive disability benefits from a deceased spouse under certain circumstances. Although you cannot directly claim a deceased spouse’s disability benefits for yourself, there may be other programs or options available if you rely on your spouse’s disability income for financial support. So, even if you cannot directly claim your deceased spouse’s disability benefits, you can still get monetary help.
For a free review of your situation from our Arkansas disability lawyers, call us at (479) 316-0438.
Can You Get a Deceased Spouse’s Disability Benefits in Arkansas
Generally, you are not able to transfer your spouse’s disability benefits to yourself after they pass away. This is because disability benefits are generally related to the condition of the disabled person, not their family members.
However, that does not mean you are entirely out of luck. You can still get benefits to help your financial situation if you relied on your spouse’s disability benefits when they were living. How you go about obtaining these benefits will be different depending on your unique situation, so it is best to speak with our Fort Smith, AR disability lawyers to figure out the best path going forward.
Disability Benefits in Arkansas
The two main types of federal disability programs that benefit Arkansas residents are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Both programs offer similar benefits but have different criteria to be eligible because they serve people with different needs. Depending on the program that your spouse belongs to, you may also receive different benefits as the surviving spouse. These benefits may be different than what your spouse was receiving from their Social Security program.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program meant to assist people who can no longer work because of a disability. SSDI has very strict eligibility requirements, which are available on the SSDI website.
SSDI can provide many benefits for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria, and some of those benefits can include greater income because of a need to support a family. The amount of extra SSDI income will depend on the number of people the applicant needs to support. However, SSDI exists to help disabled people support a dignified lifestyle. Those benefits do not transfer over to you if the recipient passes away. If you are eligible for SSDI, you would have had your own SSDI policy. That being said, you are not left without help if you lose SSDI income from your spouse because they passed away. There are other federal programs you can look to if you are not eligible for SSDI.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal program that helps disabled people who do not have much income or resources. The requirements are slightly different than for SSDI. For example, work experience is significantly less important for supplemental security income than it is for Social Security Disability Insurance.
It is important to note that Supplemental Security Income may be a path forward if you relied on your spouse’s income from SSDI when they were living. The standards for eligibility for SSI are different than the requirements for SSDI. So, if the loss of a spouse’s economic resources would make you eligible for SSI, that may be a path to pursue.
Social Security Retirement Benefits
Social security benefits generally refer to income paid out from social security to older, retired American citizens. Spouses can also collect part of these benefits if certain criteria are met. Namely, the spouse is already receiving retirement benefits, you have been married for at least a year, and you are either at least 62 years old or are caring for a disabled person under the age of 16.
If your spouse passes away, you can obtain survival benefits based on their social security benefits if you were married to the deceased person for at least nine months and meet certain age thresholds. For most individuals, you need to be at least 60 years old. The threshold for individuals with disabilities is 50 years old, and there is no age limit if you are caring for a disabled child of the deceased or a child of the deceased who is under 16 years old.
The amount of survivor benefits you receive will depend on what benefits your spouse was getting when they were alive. This can be complicated to ascertain, so it is best to speak with our lawyers about this situation.
Social Security Survivor Benefits by Age
Depending on your age, you can receive differing percentages of a deceased spouse’s social security benefits, provided that you meet the criteria outlined in the previous section.
If you are at full retirement age, you will get 100% of your spouse’s benefits. If you are between 60 years old and full retirement age, you get somewhere between 71.5% and 99% of those benefits. If you are below 60 years old and are disabled, you get 71.5% of the benefits. Finally, if you are caring for a child who is under 16 or disabled, you get 75% of your spouse’s benefits regardless of your age.
Call Our Arkansas Disability Lawyers Right Away
Our Springdale, AR disability lawyers can be reached at (479) 316-0438 for free case analyses.