Lesser Known Disability Benefits Based on Someone Else’s Earnings

By Jennifer Scherf

The two types of disability programs most people are familiar with are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI is a program for people who are unable to engage in any kind of employment for at least 12 months, and who paid FICA taxes for 20 out of 40 quarters, or approximately five out of the last 10 years. 

SSI is for people who are unable to engage in any kind of employment for at least 12 months, and who meet the Social Security Administration’s income and asset requirements. These amounts vary greatly, so please call SSA for details.

However, there are other benefits available for widows and widowers and even divorced spouses.

If you are a widow or widower or divorced spouse, you may be eligible to get retirement benefits equal to one-half of your deceased or ex-spouse’s benefits when you file for full retirement or early retirement as early as age 60. But, did you know you could also get disability benefits based on their higher earnings history?

There are some requirements for this benefit:

  1. You must be between the ages of 50 and 60;
  2. You must be disabled;
  3. You must not be currently married;
  4. Your disability must have started within seven years from the date of your former spouse’s death or your divorce;
  5. For divorced spouses, you must have been married for 10 years or more;
  6. For widows and widowers, you must have been married nine months or longer.

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