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How Disability and Retirement Benefits May Affect Your Spouse's Social Security

When a recipient of Social Security Disability benefits reaches his or her full retirement age (FRA), disability benefits are converted to retirement packages. While this may make little difference to the amount received by the primary benefactor, it can greatly affect the total value of spousal and survivor benefits. Last year’s update to Social Security law may force those receiving disability benefits to reconsider their plans for the future. A recent USA Today article takes a look at a similar situation where a person must consider postponing social security benefit payments in order to maximize their spouse’s potential survivor’s benefits.

Maximizing Spousal Benefits VS. Survivor Benefits

Generally, when an individual is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, their partner may be eligible for spousal benefits upon reaching the age of 62. However, if a tragedy occurs resulting in the primary recipient’s death, spousal payments will be converted to survivor benefits. In order to maximize survivor benefits, recipients who reach their FRA must then postpone retirement payments until the age of 70.

Unfortunately, there is a tradeoff. Deferring the start of retirement benefits will also halt spousal benefits until the time that payments are resumed. This can leave many families with an uncomfortable choice. To maximize potential survivor’s benefits, families must forgo collecting both primary and spousal social security payments for an extended period of time.

While spousal benefits are limited to half of the primary insurance amount (PIA), payments can still be substantial. Spouses must consider whether or not their household can be maintained without the support of Social Security Benefits. Additionally, penalties exist when a spouse claims benefits early and again, a spouse’s age must be taken into consideration.

Legal Help for SSD Benefit Recipients

If you are in this position, your choice is far from simple and should not be made without careful consideration and analysis. Do not navigate the legal process alone and risk collecting less in benefits than you and your spouse may be eligible to receive. At Disability Action Advocates, our Sacramento Social Security disability attorneys can bring more than two decades of experience to your case. Together, we can review your situation and tailor a legal strategy to your family’s goals.

Call toll free (888) 421-8705 or request a free consultation online to learn about your options.


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