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How Spouse’s Benefits Work Under SSDI


If you are married and the recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it is important to review an additional benefit that may be available to your family: The SSDI spousal benefit. The point behind offering an amount on top of your SSDI payments is that disability affects entire families. Your spouse is a significant source of support, both physically and emotionally, so that person may be entitled to these additional funds – assuming he or she can qualify under the meticulous rules of the Social Security Administration. A Maryland SSDI attorney can provide more detailed information, but an overview may be helpful.

Eligibility for Spousal Benefits: There are strict rules for an SSDI recipient’s spouse to qualify for the spousal disability benefits. Assuming you are the recipient:

  • You must have been married to your spouse for at least one year;
  • Your spouse must be at least 62 years old when you start receiving benefits. An early retirement penalty applies to younger individuals, and the reduction will be permanent.
  • Your spouse cares for your child who is under 16 years old, and this benefit ends when the minor turns 16. The early retirement penalty does not affect spouses caring for children under age 16. The SSDI spousal benefit is offset if your spouse works while also caring for the child, in an amount equal to $1 for every $2 your spouse earns over the designated limit.
  • Your spouse provides care for a disabled child who receives Social Security benefits, regardless of the child’s age. For purposes of this eligibility rule, your spouse must have parental control and responsibility. In addition, the child’s disability must have occurred or been diagnosed before age 22.

Calculating SSDI Spousal Benefits: If your spouse meets the requirements, he or she may receive up to half of your own monthly SSDI benefit. There is a family maximum amount, which may limit the spousal benefit if you have a child who is also receiving benefits. 

SSDI Spousal Benefits After Divorce: In some situations, former spouses may qualify to receive benefits. The ex-spouse of an SSDI recipient must meet all eligibility rules, which include:

  • Your marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer;
  • Your former spouse is 62 years of age or older; and,
  • Your ex-spouse has not remarried.

The benefits available to former spouses can be up to 50 percent of your own amount, so long as it is not more than their own earnings record with the Social Security Administration. Note that any SSDI spousal benefits paid to an ex-spouse will not affect what your current spouse may receive.

The “Widowers” Benefit: If a surviving spouse was married to a decedent who died while collecting SSDI benefits, that person may also be eligible for a spousal benefit. To qualify, the surviving spouse must be at least 60 years old.

A Maryland SSDI Attorney Can Explain How Spousal Benefits Work 

For more information on the disability spousal benefit and application process, please contact the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC to set up a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Maryland from our offices in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills, Ellicott City, and Annapolis.


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