What happens when a person is receiving regular Social Security Disability benefit checks but reaches full retirement age (FRA) before their spouse also reaches FRA? What happens then if they pass away before their spouse reaches FRA? Would survivor benefits be better than spousal benefits at that point?
All of these questions come together to reveal the true intricacy of Social Security Disability, the many variances in its rules, and its governing laws. But the complexity of a question does not make it any less valid. What would happen in that unique yet completely realistic scenario?
USA Today recently published an online Q&A article that asked the same thing – you can click here to view their full article. The answer is complicated, to say the least, but we will do our best to break it down into easier pieces, as did a senior financial planner USA Today interviewed, Mr. David Cechanowicz.
Survivor or Spousal Benefits? Or Retirement Benefits?
When the spouse of someone receiving SSD benefits reaches 62 years old, they can begin collecting spousal benefits under the same claim. Spousal benefits will not exceed 50% of the benefactor’s primary insurance amount (PIA). This window of a benefactor support his or her spouse is quite limited, however, as by the time they reach their FRA – usually at 65 or 66 – their disability benefits automatically turn into retirement benefits, which could eliminate the spousal benefits.
The question previously posed asks what happens if the benefactor dies in that window of opportunity, between the start of spousal benefits and the beginning of retirement benefits due to achieved FRA? The answer depends on whether or not spousal benefits can convert into survivor benefits, which is also dependent on the number of maximum delayed retirement credits the couple has accrued.
One of the only ways get enough retirement credits to ensure a maximized survivor benefits package upon the benefactor’s passing is to suspend retirement benefits between the FRA and age 70. For most people, this is a four-year suspension, starting at 66, where they must live without SSD benefits. This is understandably not possible for many people totally reliant on SSD.
Making Sense of the Fine Details
If you are facing a situation similar to that posed in the question addressed to USA Today, you are probably already in the thick of it when it comes to complicated legalese and SSD benefit paperwork. Rather than trying to sort through it all on your own, and risk collecting less monthly benefits than to which you are entitled, allow Disability Action Advocates and our Las Vegas Social Security disability representatives to manage your case or claim. We bring 20+ years of SSD law experience to each case and handle it as if we are representing a close friend, for in many ways we are.
Call toll free (888) 421-8705 to schedule a free consultation today.