If a disabled worker has lost a spouse and is either a widow or widower, a disability attorney may be able to help him or her file a title II claim for disability insurance benefits under the earnings record of that spouse. That can be important if the disabled person does not have a strong earnings record but the deceased spouse does have a good earnings record. It can make a significant difference in the benefits that may be paid should a disability attorney help them win.
There are, however, special rules which must be satisfied in order to apply for disability benefits under the earnings record of a deceased spouse. First, the person applying for disability benefits must be at least 50 years of age. Second, the deceased spouse must have been insured for disability insurance benefits at the time of death (e.g., have enough earnings in their lifetime to be eligible for such benefits). Finally, the surviving spouse applying for disability benefits must prove their disability began within 7 years of the death of the deceased spouse.
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If you have questions about how these rules may apply to you or a specific set of circumstances involving someone you know, you should consult a disability attorney who is familiar with the Social Security disability program.