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Social Security Q&A Part 2

By Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Question: My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits. His wife and son also receive benefits. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to benefits?

Answer: The child may qualify for Social Security benefits even though your brother wasn’t married to the second child’s mother. The child’s caretaker should file an application on her behalf. For more information, visit us online at www.socialsecurity.gov.


Question: What are the requirements for receiving disabled widow’s benefits?

Answer: You may be able to get disabled widow(er)’s benefits at age 50 if you meet Social Security’s disability requirement. Your disability must have started before age 60 and within seven years of the latest of the following dates: the month the worker died; the last month you were entitled to survivors benefits on the worker’s record as a parent caring for a surviving minor child; the month your previous entitlement to disabled widow(er)’s benefits ended because your disability ended. To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dqualify9.htm.


Question: It’s hard for me to get around because of my disability. Can I apply for disability benefits from home?

Answer: Yes. In fact, the best way to apply for disability benefits is online. Our online disability application is convenient and secure. You can apply for benefits over the Internet at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment to visit your local Social Security office to apply. However you decide to apply, begin by looking at our Disability Starter Kit at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. It will help you prepare for your application or interview.


Question: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

Answer: The law states Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. Social Security disability benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not able to receive benefits for any month during the waiting period. Learn more at our website: www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.


Question: What is the benefit amount a spouse may be entitled to receive?

Answer: If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefits. A spouse generally receives one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse’s benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. For example, based on the full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits:

  • At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker’s full benefit;
  • At age 64, it would be about 42 percent;
  • At age 63, 37.5 percent; and
  • At age 62, 35 percent.

However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits on the same record, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age. Learn more by reading our Retirement publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10035.html.




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