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Social Security Disability for a Spouse Who Never Worked

Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are two programs that pay benefits to individuals unable to work due to a disability. You must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings from a job or self-employment to qualify for benefits through SSDI.

The SSI program does not require a work history to qualify for benefits, but it does limit the amount of income and resources you may have available to be eligible for the program. Neither SSI nor SSDI let you qualify for Social Security disability benefits based only on that your spouse is eligible for them.

Generally, you must meet the qualifying standards to receive SSD benefits through either SSI or SSDI. However, you may be eligible for family benefits when you have a spouse who qualifies for and receives SSDI.

Claiming SSDI benefits based on the earnings of a spouse

You cannot qualify for SSDI without having worked and accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, but you may qualify for family benefits as the spouse of someone who receives SSDI benefits. The spouse of an SSDI beneficiary may be eligible to receive up to half of what their husband or wife receives each month.

Family benefits are available to the following relatives of someone receiving SSDI benefits:

Family benefits are available to the following relatives of someone receiving SSDI benefits:

  • Current spouse.
  • Children.
  • Divorced spouse.
  • A disabled adult child whose disability began before 22 years of age.

The maximum benefit that members of an SSDI beneficiary’s family may receive cannot exceed 180% of the monthly SSDI payment received by the disabled party. Depending on the number of family members and the SSDI benefit to the disabled person, the family benefit maximum ranges from 150% to 180%.

When can a spouse begin receiving spousal benefits?

To qualify for spouse’s benefits through Social Security, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be married for a minimum of one year to someone who receives either SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits.
  • You must be at least 62 years of age or older. You may qualify for benefits at a younger age provided you provide care to a child of the SSDI beneficiary. The child must be younger than 16 years of age. If the child is disabled, he or she must be younger than 22 years old and receive SSD benefits.
  • You cannot be receiving Social Security retirement benefits based on your own work record.

If you worked long enough to qualify for a retirement benefit through Social Security, you will receive that benefit before receiving a spouse’s benefit. However, if the spousal benefit you are entitled to receive is higher more than what you receive through your own earnings record, your SSDI spouse’s benefit will be added to increase what you get each month to equal the higher amount.

Divorce and Social Security benefits

Even though you never worked and are now divorced, you may be eligible for benefits through the earnings record of your former spouse. If you and your ex-spouse were married for at least 10 years, you may qualify for benefits provided you have not remarried and are at least 62 years old.

Your right to receive benefits based after a divorce does diminish the benefits available to your former spouse. It also does not matter whether your ex-spouse remarried after the divorce.

You cannot claim benefits through the earnings record of more than one person, so you cannot claim benefits through more than one former spouse. You also cannot claim benefits under your own earnings record and the record of a former spouse unless what you receive on your own account is less.

Survivor’s benefits

As the spouse of a deceased SSDI beneficiary, you may be entitled to widow or widower benefits. These benefits are available to you at 60 years of age, but you may claim benefits at 50 if you have a disability. Widow or widower benefits are available to you at any age provided you have not remarried and care for a child who is younger than 16 years old or who is disabled and receives SSD benefits.

Unlike benefits claimed through a former spouse’s earnings record after a divorce, remarriage after the death of a spouse may not affect your eligibility for survivor’s benefits. The remarriage must not have taken place before you are 60 years old or 50 years old if you are disabled.

Learn more by contacting London Disability

Let an SSDI and SSI expert at London Disability review your situation to determine the benefits that you may be entitled to receive. Even if you only worked for a short time, your work record may be long enough to qualify for SSDI depending on the age at which you became disabled. Contact us today for a free consultation with a disability advocate.

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