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Social Security US: can my wife get Social Security if I am disabled?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides financial support for Americans with disabilities and family members can also claim the benefits.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) is best known for the benefits offered to retired workers in the United States, but the agency provides a variety of other programs to offer financial support to vulnerable Americans.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are insured, meaning that you have contributed enough to the SSA during your time in work.

If you are eligible for SSDI then your spouse is able to draw a benefit as part of your support program, provided that you have been married for at least one year and your spouse is at least 62 years old. If your spouse cares for a child of yours who is younger than 16 or disabled, then they can claim SSDI support regardless of their age.

How much can a spouse claim from SSDI?

A spouse can claim a maximum of 50% of the amount of their husband’s or wife’s disability benefit, provided that they claim the benefits at full retirement age or that they are also caring for the disabled person’s child.

There are some limits on this, however, related to the SSA’s ‘dual entitlement’ restrictions. You cannot claim a spousal benefit if you are already in receipt of a Social Security retirement or disability benefit of your own that exceeds the amount from the spousal SSDI claim.

Spousal benefits, like other forms of SSA benefits, are reduced if claimed before full retirement age, assuming that there is no childcare issue which could entitle the spouse to an earlier payment.

Who else can claim SSDI spousal benefits?

There are also some conditions in which a former spouse may claim SSDI after a divorce. If the marriage lasted for at least a decade and the spouse claiming SSDI is at least 62 and has not remarried, the former partner may claim a spousal benefit as normal. If an ex-spouse of yours makes a claim for SSDI spousal benefits, this will not affect any benefits you are receiving from the SSA.

If you are an SSDI recipient then any minor or disabled children you have can also claim benefits from the same program. However these are subject to a total benefits cap known as the ‘family maximum’.

The family maximum amounts are calculated for each individual household and take into account their earnings history, family size, work status and a variety of other conditions. The SSDI family maximum will be between 100-150% of the individual claimant’s full entitlement.


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