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SSDI Spousal benefits with child in care

Can I get Spousal SSDI benefits?

On our disability forum we get many questions from the husband or wife of a disabled worker who wonders if they are entitled to some type of spousal disability benefit if their spouse is on Social Security Disability Insurance.
A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) does, under some conditions, offer spousal benefits to the wife or husband of the disabled worker. There are several qualifications, however, and they are listed below.

First, the worker must be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance. This means they must be determined disabled by the SSA and have worked and earned enough work credits to be considered insured for the SSDI program. Keep in mind, if they only qualify for Supplemental Security Income than this program does not offer auxiliary benefits to spouses.

How can I qualify for a SSDI spousal benefit?

  1. Spouses must complete the application for the SSDI spousal benefit.

  2. The spouse must be ages 62 or over or they must have a child under the age of 16 in who is in their care or a child of any age who has been determined disabled (assuming they are performing personal services for the child)

Spouses must also have been married to the qualified worker for at least 12 continuous months prior to the SSDI application date and as mentioned above, the worker must meet the qualifications of the SSDI program.

Widows can also receive benefits, assuming the worker died fully insured, and the surviving spouse is currently not married. You will need to talk to the SSA about your spousal benefits if you are entitled to a higher widow’s benefits on another account or to a higher retirement or disability benefit on your own account. Generally entitlements will end, according to the SSA, the month before you become entitled to a higher benefit on another account.

What does it mean for a child to be “in your care”?

Assuming you are the spouse of a covered worker, you may get spousal benefits at any age if you are caring for the child of the covered employee who is “in your care.” Children can either be disabled of any age if you are performing “personal services” (including washing, feeding, or dressing the child) or they can be under the age of 16.

“In your care” does not mean the child has to always been in your physical custody, but the SSA will expect that are “exercising parental control and responsibility over the upbringing of the child.”

This is not a difficult standard, in fact, the SSA claims that they child only has to be in your case for one day of the month to be considered “in your care.” Parents who do not have a child in their care will have their SSDI spousal benefits terminated until the child is returned to their care, assuming they do not qualify to receive them for any other reason,.

One issue which may be confusing is that the child may continue to receive SSDI auxiliary benefits until they reach 18 years of age, but your benefits, as the spouse, will be terminated when the child turns 16, unless the child is disabled.
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