A Guide to Social Security Disability Survivor Benefits

Social Security disability survivor benefitsWhen planning for end-of-life finances, it’s important to consider all forms of income – including Social Security disability payments. If your immediate family member has passed away, being a spouse, parent or child, you could be eligible to receive Social Security disability survivor benefits. There are certain requirements for obtaining these benefits, including familial relationship and survivors’ health, that can play a role in how much you can receive.

Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of survivors’ benefits.

Who Can Receive Social Security Disability Survivors Benefits?

When a recipient of Social Security disability passes away, there are certain family members who may be eligible to receive those monthly disability benefits. Members include:


A widow/widower over the age of 60 (or over the age of 50 if disabled), or a widow/widower caring for the deceased’s child, who must be under the age of 16 or disabled.


Must be unmarried and younger than 18 or 18+ with a disability that began prior to the age of 22.


Dependent parent(s) of the deceased, each receiving a portion of the total benefits.

Surviving Spouses

If your spouse was receiving disability benefits prior to their death, there are certain circumstances under which you may be eligible to receive those payments, each with varying percentages of benefits that you are able to collect.

  • If you’re at least 50 years old and disabled, you can receive 71.5% of your spouse’s benefits
  • If you’re at least 60 years old but have not yet reached retirement age, you can receive 71.5% – 99% of your spouse’s benefits
  • If you are over the minimum age for full retirement, you can receive 100% of your spouse’s benefits
  • If you care for a child under 16 who receives benefits from your spouse, you can receive 75% of your spouse’s benefits (this will end after the child reaches age 17 unless the child is disabled)

Keep in mind, there are a few situations where you can NOT receive disability benefits as a surviving spouse. These include:

Marriage – You must have been married to the deceased benefactor for a minimum of 9 months to receive benefits, with various exceptions such as accidents.

Remarriage – If you remarry before the age of 60, you can not receive your spouse’s benefits. If you remarry after 60 (or 50, with a disability), your disability will not be impacted.

Retirement – Your retirement payouts could be higher than the money received from the disability benefits of your spouse, in which case you could choose which you’d prefer to receive.

Work – Depending on your age and earned income, the amount you receive from your spouse’s disability benefits may be reduced.

Child/Grandchild Benefits

As a natural child, adopted child, step-child, or grandchild of a deceased parent who was receiving disability, you can receive 75% of your parent or grandparent’s benefits based on the following:

  • If you are unmarried and under the age of 18
  • If you are disabled before the age of 22 and remain disabled

Parent Benefits

If you are a dependent parent (must be over 62 years of age) of a disability recipient, you may also be eligible to receive their benefits. This could be for a natural parent, step-parent, or adopted parent if you became the parent prior to the deceased turning 16 years old.

In order to qualify, you must:

  • Have been receiving half or more of your financial support from the deceased child
  • Not be eligible to receive retirement that is higher than the payout of your child’s disability benefits
  • Not have married after your adult child’s death

For one surviving parent, you are eligible to receive 82.5% of the benefits from your child. For two surviving parents, you are eligible to receive 75% each from your child’s benefits.

There is a limit to the number of disability benefits family members of a deceased recipient can receive on a monthly basis. It varies case-by-case but is typically between 150-180%.

Contact the Disability Attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis

Determining eligibility for Social Security disability survivor benefits can be complicated to tackle on your own – there are a lot of factors and documentation involved in this process. That’s why it’s best to hire a specialized disability attorney like the team at Woodruff & Mathis to walk you through the system and provide support as you apply for benefits. To request an appointment with us, please click here.