Special Situations

There are "Special Situations" where most people who receive disability benefits are workers who qualify on their own records and meet the work and disability requirements that have just been described. However, there are some situations that are worth pointing out such as:

  • If You Are Blind Or Have Low Vision the SSA has special rules to allow you to receive benefits. For example, if you are blind, the SSA will pay benefits under two (2) programs when you are unable to work: The Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI), that has been discussed in detail herein above, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that will be discussed herein below.

    The medical rules the SSA uses to decide whether you are blind are the same for each program. Other rules are different, however, since you can get disability benefits if you are legally blind.

    You are considered legally blind if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye, or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less in your better eye. Even if, however, your vision does not meet the legal definition of blindness, then you may still qualify for disability benefits if your vision problems alone, or combined with other health problems prevent you from working.

    As stated herein above, for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI), you also must have worked long enough in a job where you paid Social Security taxes. For Supplemental Social Security Benefits (SSI), however, payments are based on disability and blindness, you need not have worked, but your income and resources must be under certain dollar limits. Ask your local Social Security office about the income limits in your state and contact the SSA for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (Publication No. 05-11000). This booklet also is available in Braille and other formats.

  • If You Are The Worker's Widow Or Widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can receive full benefits at full retirement age for survivors or reduced benefits as early as age 60, and you may also begin receiving benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled AND the disability started before or within seven (7) years of the worker's death.

    It is important to note that if a widow or widower who is caring for the worker's children receives Social Security benefits, then he or she is still eligible if their disability starts before those payments end or within seven (7) years after they end. A widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse cannot apply online for survivors benefits so if you wish to apply for disability benefits as a survivor, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment, and if you are deaf or hard of hearing, then call the TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

    You can speed up the application process if you complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment. The SSA uses the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers. A widow or widower, however, shall receive survivors benefits at any age if you take care of the deceased worker's child who is under age 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on the worker's record.

  • If you remarry, after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), then your remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits. If you remarry before you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), however, then you cannot receive benefits as a surviving spouse while you are married. If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), you will continue to qualify for benefits on your deceased spouse's Social Security record. However, if your current spouse is a Social Security beneficiary, then you may want to apply for spouse's benefits on his or her record since if that amount is more than your widow's or widower's benefit, then you will receive a combination of benefits that equals the higher amount.

  • If You're The Surviving Divorced Spouse of a worker who dies, then you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower, provided that your marriage lasted 10 years or more. The Benefits paid to you as a surviving divorced spouse who meets the age or disability requirement as a widow or widower won't affect the benefit rates for other survivors getting benefits on the worker's record.

    It is important to note that if you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), then the remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits. If you are caring for a child under age 16 or disabled who is getting benefits on the record of your former spouse, then you would not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child, however, must be your former spouse's natural or legally adopted child.

    If you qualify because you have the worker's child in your care, then your benefit will affect the amount of the benefits of others on the worker's record under the Maximum Family Amount as there's a limit to the amount that family members can receive each month.

    The limit varies but it is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of the basic benefit rate. If the sum of the benefits payable to family members is greater than this limit, then the benefits will be reduced proportionately. (Any benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse based on disability or age won't count toward this maximum amount.).

    It is important to note that although you can use the SSA's benefit calculators to see how much your survivors could receive on your record, you cannot use them to calculate your potential benefits on someone else's record. To determine how much you can receive on someone else’s record, you need to contact your local Social Security office or call the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to learn how much you could receive on the other record.

If you believe that you or a loved one are eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits and you are just applying for the first time, have been denied and wish to appeal, or simply want more information about your particular facts and circumstances, then please Contact Us as soon as possible for your free legal consultation so that we can assist you in receiving the benefits that you may be entitled to under the Law.