We are privately owned and not affiliated or endorsed by any government agency.

Take the Benefits Quiz

Are You Eligible for Social Security Disabled Spouse Benefits?

Find out when your spouse and children can receive dependent benefits while you get Social Security Disability and learn how the law defines dependency for stepchildren and non-adopted grandchildren to receive dependent benefits.

The government provides Social Security benefits as financial assistance for retired, disabled, or limited-income individuals. This assistance may also be available to family members, such as current or former spouses or children, who meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) criteria.

We’ll explore whether you and your children are eligible for Social Security benefits and how much Social Security pays for spousal benefits. We’ll also address common questions, such as whether your spousal benefits start automatically, and discuss who you can contact if you need assistance.

Am I Eligible for Social Security Disabled Spouse Benefits?

To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits as the spouse of a current recipient, you must have been married continuously for at least one year to the individual receiving Social Security benefits. Additionally, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are 62 or older
  • You are caring for a child under 16
  • You are caring for a child who was disabled before age 22

If you obtain Social Security retirement benefits from your work, you are ineligible to obtain benefits as a spouse. For benefits to be payable, you can only have countable work earnings up to their maximum annual benefits. 

As we explore options, you’ll quickly discover that understanding Social Security spousal benefits is critical to getting what you deserve.

If you earn below the limit for Social Security benefits, it may be advantageous for you to apply for benefits even if the government is paying benefits to children. However, total family benefits will not increase a spouse’s entitlement.

Entitlement on your earnings record could protect potential eligibility for a disabled surviving spouse’s benefits should their partner die before them.

Benefits Eligibility for a Divorced Spouse

If you are divorced and 62 or older, you may also qualify for benefits if:

  • You were married to your partner for 10 or more years
  • You are not currently married
  • You are not entitled to a higher benefit on your own earnings record

Different from all other dependent benefits, the government can pay a divorced spouse’s benefits without the living wage earner entitled to Social Security disability or retirement benefits as long as:

  • The divorce occurred two years or more before the application for the divorced spouse’s benefits was filed
  • The wage earner is insured and at least 62 years old throughout the year that the divorced spouse files for benefits

These guidelines allow the divorced spouse to receive retirement-age benefits even if the wage earner defers retirement to age 70.

Additional VA Disability Dependent Pay
If you’re a U.S. veteran, learn how to add a dependent to your VA disability benefits, as they may be eligible for VA disability dependent pay.

Benefits Eligibility for a Widowed Spouse

Widowers, defined by the SSA as surviving spouses, are also potentially eligible for Social Security benefits. The amount of assistance provided to a surviving spouse is based on the deceased individual’s earnings. The following table shows the percentage available to surviving spouses in varied situations.

Available Benefits for Surviving Spouses

Surviving Spouse SituationPercentage of Worker’s Benefit Received
Has reached full retirement age100%
Is 60 or older, but not retirement age71½%-99%
Is 50-59 years old and disabled59%-71½%
Is any age and caring for a child under 1616%-75%

It is vital to know that while surviving spouses can receive benefits, there are limits for those who remarry. If you marry again before 60, you cannot obtain your deceased spouse’s benefits — after 60, you retain benefit eligibility. The age is reduced to 50 if you have a disability. Survivors can also opt to switch to their retirement benefits at 62.

In addition to Social Security benefits, a surviving spouse may be eligible for a one-time lump-sum death payment of $255. Those living with their spouse at the time of their death qualify. Otherwise, you must have already obtained benefits or became eligible when your spouse passed away.

How Much Does Social Security Pay for Spousal Benefits?

If the government approves a partner for Social Security disability payments on their earnings record, you and your children may also be eligible to receive dependent assistance up to 50% of your retirement benefit amount.

It is critical to understand that there are penalties if you withdraw Social Security benefits before your full retirement age. While emergencies and other scenarios may demand you to utilize funds at an earlier age, you will receive a lower percentage of assistance. You can calculate the effect of retiring earlier using the Social Security Administration’s Benefits for Spouses calculator.

Calculate your Social Security disability insurance benefits to confirm you receive everything you are eligible for when applying.

What Is a Family Maximum Benefit?

The family maximum benefit is the amount payable to any family member, including the benefit paid to you (called your primary insurance amount, or PIA). The government derives PIA and FMB from the disabled worker’s lifetime earnings. 

If an individual’s past earnings are low, the FMB will equal the PIA disability payments paid to the disabled worker, and no dependent benefits will be payable. 

To the degree that past earnings are high enough for the FMB to be more than the PIA, dependent benefits are payable, ranging from a few dollars up to 50% of the worker’s PIA per dependent.

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Available for Children?

Your children may be eligible for child support benefits. The Social Security Administration defines a “child” as your natural child, adopted child, dependent stepchild, and, in some cases, dependent grandchild. 

Stepchildren can meet the stepchild status if they were born before the parent’s marriage to the disabled worker or conceived before and born after. Stepchildren can receive dependent benefits one year after the marriage that gave them stepchild status if they meet the financial dependency requirement throughout the year before one of the dates when:

  • The insured worker became disabled
  • The insured worker became entitled to disability benefits
  • Someone filed an application for the stepchild

What Is Dependency for Children?

Dependency is receiving at least one-half of support from the disabled stepparent. Rules regarding what is considered a contribution for support are detailed and extensive, but as a general rule, the contribution has to provide for basic needs versus contributions for special activities and the like.

For a dependent, non-adopted grandchild to be eligible for dependent benefits, the grandchild’s parents must either be deceased or disabled in the month that the grandparent becomes entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Social Security retirement benefits (or in the month when the grandparent’s period of disability began). 

Non-adopted grandchildren must meet dependency requirements similar to those for stepchildren to qualify for child support benefits.

When Are Children’s Benefits Payable?

Children’s benefits can continue or start if a child becomes disabled before age 22. An application for childhood disability benefits payable for a disabled adult child can be filed three months before the child turns 18 if: 

  • The child is disabled and unmarried
  • One of the following applies to the parent:
    • They are entitled to Social Security disability 
    • They are entitled to retirement-age benefits 
    • They are deceased

If the child is still a full-time high school, benefits will continue until the end of the month before the child turns 20. Benefits are not paid for 18-year-olds in post-secondary education or job training.

How Do I Apply for Social Security Disabled Spouse Benefits?

To apply for Social Security benefits, visit the SSA website or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-772-1213.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of your benefits, contact the friendly, knowledgeable team at Benefits.com. Give us a call at 1-800-772-1213, and we’ll help you and your family get the benefits you deserve to live your best life.


Obtaining the Social Security benefits you and your family deserve may take time and effort. To help you get started, we’ve assembled and answered some of the most frequently asked questions.

When Can My Spouse Get Social Security Benefits?

Your spouse can begin taking advantage of your Social Security benefits as young as 62; however, you will not receive as much as if you would wait for your full retirement age. Your full retirement age is determined by the year you were born. For example, for those born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67. 

With that in mind, it’s beneficial to wait to claim benefits until your full retirement age so you can claim the maximum amount, which is up to 50% of your spouse’s full benefit. 

Additional scenarios in which a spouse can take advantage of your Social Security benefits include while they are caring for a child under 16 or if you pass away.

Is There a Spousal Benefit for Social Security Disability?

Yes, your spouse can take advantage of your Social Security benefits, but they must first meet the benefits criteria set by the Social Security Administration. Once eligible and approved, your spouse can receive up to 50% of your benefit amount without detracting from your benefits.

Do You Get 50%of Your Spouse’s Social Security?

An eligible individual can claim up to 50% of their former or current spouse’s Social Security benefits. To be eligible, you must be at least 62 or older. Alternatively, you can be under 62 years of age and be caring for a child under 16.

Do Spousal Benefits Start Automatically?

Spousal Social Security benefits do not start automatically. You must apply for benefits through the SSA. To apply, visit the SSA website or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-772-1213.

What Happens When Dependent Benefits End?

Benefits paid to your dependents do not reduce your benefits. When a dependent is no longer eligible, such as when your youngest child turns 18, your disability insurance benefits will not change.

Claim Your Spousal Social Security Disabled Benefits and More

You don’t need to go on your journey alone for spousal Social Security disability benefits. At Benefits.com, we work hard to get you the benefits you deserve. In addition to Social Security benefits, we can help you navigate applying for veteran benefits and grant money. Take our Benefits Quiz to see how you qualify.

Benefits.com Advisors

With expertise spanning local, state, and federal benefit programs, our team is dedicated to guiding individuals towards the perfect program tailored to their unique circumstances.

Rise to the top with Peak Benefits!

Join our Peak Benefits Newsletter for the latest news, resources, and offers on all things government benefits.

Related Articles