Can You Get Disability and Survivor Benefits at the Same Time in PA?

Many people are collecting Social Security disability benefits in Pennsylvania. Some of them, due to the unfortunate death of a spouse, may become eligible for survivor benefits as well. So, can someone receive both disability and survivor benefits at the same time in PA?

Our Pennsylvania disability attorneys at Young, Marr & Associates outline Social Security Disability Insurance and survivor benefit regulations in these states. Keep reading for more information.

Disability Benefits vs. Survivor Benefits in Pennsylvania

The short answer is perhaps. An individual can receive a portion of survivor benefits if they are receiving disability benefits for a period of time prior to reaching their full retirement age. To understand this answer both benefits need to be explained in more detail including their relationship to each other.

How Disability Benefits Work

Social Security Disability Insurance provides benefits for people who have paid a certain amount of Social Security taxes over a period of time. The individual making the claim must also have one of the disabilities or conditions that qualify for disability benefits that prevents them from earning a certain monthly income as a full-time worker. The Social Security Administration offers an official listing of medical impairments and approved medical conditions known as the “Blue Book”. Consult with the Social Security Administration or a disability attorney to understand the full eligibility requirement.

For purposes of this discussion it is important to understand that disability benefits can last from the time you are determined to be disabled until you reach the age of full retirement. Currently the full age of retirement is 67 for any born in 1962 or later. Once an individual has reached the age of full retirement the disability benefits convert to Social Security retirement benefits. This transformation is critical in determining whether someone can receive both disability and survivor benefits.

How Survivor Benefits Work

Survivor benefits are Social Security monthly payments paid to a surviving spouse or eligible family member upon the death of a spouse who was either collecting Social Security or entitled to collect Social Security. These payments may not be available immediately upon the death of the spouse as they are subject to a number of qualifications.

To qualify for survivor benefits the surviving spouse must meet certain marriage length and age requirements. If the marriage was at least nine months old the surviving spouse may begin collecting benefits at 60 years of age. If the marriage was at least nine months old and if the surviving spouse is disabled the surviving spouse may begin collecting benefits at 50 years of age. If the surviving spouse is caring for the decedent’s children, and those children are 16 years or younger or are disabled, the surviving spouse may begin collecting benefits at any age. Also if the a surviving spouse is divorced but was married at least 10 years the surviving, former, spouse may begin collecting benefits at 60 years of age.

The requirements for survivor benefits specifically carve out an age range for disabled spouses. According to the requirements a disabled spouse, who is collecting disability benefits in Pennsylvania, is actually entitled to survivor benefits earlier than a spouse who is not disabled. This means, that from the age of 50 to the full age of retirement, or for this discussion 67, the surviving spouse may collect his or her disability benefits while still claiming survivor benefits.

Is it Possible to Collect Disability and Survivor Benefits Simultaneously in PA?

As stated earlier once the disabled surviving spouse reaches the full retirement age his or her disability benefits convert into a retirement benefit. At this point a person may not receive two social security benefits and will be able to opt for the higher monthly payment.

For example, a surviving spouse who is not disabled starts claiming the normal survivor benefits at the age of 60. Once the surviving spouse reaches the full age of retirement, or 67 in this example, he or she becomes eligible to collect their Social Security benefit. At this time the surviving spouse will begin receiving the higher benefit.

If, however, the surviving spouse is disabled and collects disability benefits the situation is slightly different. First of all the surviving spouse can begin claiming the survivor benefits at the age of 50 instead of 60. Secondly, the surviving spouse will not receive the entire survivor benefits in addition to the disability benefits already being received.

In this instance the surviving spouse will continue to receive the full disability benefits. Additional the surviving spouse will receive, if positive, the difference between the survivor benefits and the disability benefits. For example if the disability benefit was $1,200 monthly and the survivor benefit was $1,600 monthly the surviving spouse would receive the full $1,200 disability benefit plus an additional benefit of $400. This is known as the excess survivor benefit. Once the surviving spouse reaches full retirement age the disability benefit will convert to a Social Security retirement benefit and the surviving spouse would start receiving the higher of the two benefits.

Survivor Benefits Eligibility for Children

Finally there is the surviving spouse with children 16 years old or younger or disabled. In this situation the surviving disabled spouse is not subject to an immediate age requirement as a caregiver to the decedent’s children. In this situation the right to survival benefits is directly related to the age of the children and would be payable to the surviving spouse until the child, or children, reach the age of 18 or 19 if still attending high school. However, after the child is no longer eligible under these parameters, the survival benefits entitled to the surviving disabled spouse enter into a Blackout Term and cannot be collected again until the surviving spouse reaches the age of 50. The survivor benefits paid are subject to the same excess survivor benefit detailed above.

Call Our Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Attorneys Today

Therefore an individual in Pennsylvania can claim both disability benefits and a portion of survivor benefits based on their age and other circumstances. To fully understand how the payments are calculated contact the Social Security Administration or consult an attorney.

If you or a family member has questions regarding eligibility and requirements for disability or survivor benefits in Pennsylvania, the lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates, P.A. can help. Call our Pennsylvania disability lawyers for a free consultation today at (215) 515-2954.