Can I Get Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania if My Spouse is Disabled?

Disability is a complex and confusing program.  Even those who are already dealing with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) might have questions about their benefits and how they can proceed.  One common question is about spousal benefits.

Generally speaking, spouses of current disability recipients can also apply for disability if they become disabled, too.  Additionally, non-disabled spouses can often receive benefits for themselves and their children if their spouse is disabled.  However, they must meet certain age requirements or have minor children to qualify.

For a free case review, call the Philadelphia disability benefits lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates today at (215) 515-2954.

Can Disabled Spouses Both Get Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania?

SSDI is earned through years of work – and if you become disabled, it should be there to help you with your lost income.  If both spouses worked for many years before becoming disabled, they can each claim disability benefits on their own records.  However, they both must meet the qualifications for the program to receive benefits.

This means that both spouses must each be independently disabled.  To be “disabled” means that you have one of the many qualifying conditions that the Social Security Administration (SSA) lays out in their “Blue Book” of impairments.

On top of that, you must be unable to work to support yourself.  Many people with qualifying conditions are not legally “disabled” by that condition and can still go to work and support themselves and their families.  For a disability to qualify, you must be so affected by it that you cannot work.

If you meet these two major qualifications and also have the work history to support your SSDI claim, our Pennsylvania disability attorneys can help you can claim disability benefits even if your spouse already gets benefits.

Benefit Rates for Disabled Couples Receiving SSDI In Pennsylvania

Calculating benefits for disabled couples where both receive SSDI benefits is a bit complex.  Spouses might be able to claim benefits on the other spouse’s record, which could potentially be higher or lower than the benefits they could claim on their own record.

This can happen in a few different ways.  For example, imagine a husband and wife who both started working in 1980.  Say the husband worked for 40 years before becoming disabled in 2020, and the wife worked for 15 years, then became a homemaker in 1995.  If she became disabled years later in 2020, she would have a lower work record and could potentially apply for higher benefits on her husband’s record.

In contrast, picture another couple, again beginning work in 1980.  If the husband worked for 25 years and became disabled in 2005, but the wife kept working and became disabled in 2020 after 40 years of work, she could be entitled to higher benefits and would not use her husband’s record.  But could he use her work record?

Questions like these are precisely why you should speak with our Allentown disability lawyers about your SSDI application if you and your spouse are both seeking disability benefits.

Also note that, generally speaking, it does not hurt your disabled spouse’s SSDI benefits if you continue working.  This allows you to keep working and building a strong work record that you can count on later if you also become disabled.  It also allows homemakers to go back to work after their spouse begins receiving disability.  This often results in mismatched work records and differing disability benefits for each spouse, even if they are otherwise close in age.

Claiming Disability as a Divorced Spouse in Pennsylvania

Currently married spouses can often claim disability on their spouse’s record, but divorced spouses might also be able to.  If your former spouse receives Social Security benefits and you are divorced but not remarried, you could be entitled to benefits on their record.  You must also have been married to them for at least 10 years before the divorce and be at least 62 years of age to qualify for these benefits.  Speak with our Bensalem disability lawyers for help.

SSDI Benefits for Non-Disabled Spouses in Pennsylvania

The last area of benefits that you might be interested in as the spouse of someone already receiving SSDI is spousal benefits paid as part of the “family benefits” program.  Here, rather than receiving benefits for one’s own disability, the family of a disabled worker receives additional benefits to help support other people in the household.

Family benefits are typically paid to spouses and minor children, but there are some additional ways children can qualify for benefits.  Namely, children can also receive family benefits if they are over 18 but were disabled before turning 22, or they can get benefits if they are 18 but haven’t graduated high school yet.

Family benefits are often paid at a rate of 50% of the disabled worker’s benefits to each eligible family member.  However, the total benefits for the family might be capped.  This means that in a family with a spouse and multiple children, it might be impossible to pay the full 50% benefit to each family member.

Spouses need to meet special rules to qualify for family benefits as well and must be either 62 years old or caring for one of the disabled workers’ children.  If the spouse is claiming benefits on the basis of caring for a child, they can also qualify for family benefits if the child they care for is also disabled and has been since before age 22.  This means that the spouse of a disabled worker that has an adult child with Down syndrome, for example, could still be entitled to family benefits if they care for that disabled child.

Call Our Pennsylvania Disability Lawyers Today

For help with a disability application or questions about your benefits, call the Levittown disability attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates now at (215) 515-2954.

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