Can I Collect Disability After My Spouse Dies?

If your deceased spouse was getting social security disability (SSD) benefits at the time of his or her death, you may be able to keep getting some or all of those benefits. Benefits that keep paying out after the death of the person they were tied to dies are called survivor benefits because they go to the relatives that still survive.

The type and amount of survivor benefits you can get will depend on your age, how long you were married, your current marital status, whether or not you are disabled, and whether you are caring for your deceased spouse’s minor or disabled child.


If you have reached full retirement age, you will probably be able to collect all of your deceased spouse’s SSD benefits. If you have not yet reached full retirement age, you may be able to get a portion of your deceased spouse’s benefits.

If you are already collecting retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will take that into consideration, and may adjust your benefits up or down depending on your specific circumstances.

Marital Status

Unless you qualify for survivor benefits in some other manner, or a specific exception applies to your particular circumstance, you must have been married to your spouse for nine months in order to qualify for spousal survivor benefits.

There are also certain circumstances where ex-spouses can also get benefits. Don’t assume that just because you got a divorce you are not eligible for benefits, even if your ex-spouse remarried.

If you are considering getting remarried, whether you are a widow(er) or an ex, you should consult with an attorney familiar with the social security system to determine if your benefits will be impacted by your impending nuptials.


If you yourself are disabled, you may be able to get SSD benefits based on your own work record, on your spouse’s work record, or on some mixture of the two.


If you are caring for the minor or disabled child (or other dependent family member) of someone who died while receiving SSD benefits, you and the child (or other family member) may be eligible for survivor benefits.

How Do I Get Survivor Benefits?

How you go about applying for survivor’s benefits depends on whether you or your children were already getting benefits when your spouse died.

If you were already getting benefits at the time of your spouse’s death, based on your spouse’s disability or otherwise, all you should need to do is alert the Social Security Administration of your spouse’s death. The SSA will determine if you are eligible for additional benefits.

If your spouse was the only person in your family receiving benefits at the time of his or her death, you will have to apply for survivor benefits. It is important to apply as soon as you can because the SSA won’t always pay benefits retroactive to your spouse’s date of death, so the longer you wait, the more benefits you lose.

If you need assistance dealing with the SSA, or you think you should be getting more benefits than you currently are, Attorney Kiel Roeschke may be able to help you. He has helped many Arizona residents get the social security disability benefits they deserve by assisting with benefit applications, and appealing cases for people who have had their claims denied. Contact him today to schedule a meeting at his Phoenix office, or just to get some advice over the phone.