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Eligibility for Social Security disabled widows' or widowers' benefits

The federal Social Security program offers a benefit most Americans do not know about: disabled widow's or widower's benefits or DWB for short.
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    January 30, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Eligibility for Social Security disabled widows' or widowers' benefits

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The federal Social Security program offers a benefit most Americans do not know about: disabled widow's or widower's benefits or DWB for short. The program is meant to provide monthly monetary support for an older disabled widowed spouse who is not yet old enough to qualify for retirement benefits. You can receive reduced retirement benefits as early as age 60; or DWB at age 50 if you are disabled and your disability began within seven years of your spouse's death.

Once eligible for DWBs, a disabled widow or widower is also normally eligible for Medicare after a two-year period, another significant financial benefit for someone with a severe medical condition who cannot work.

Purpose of DWBs

The typical scenario in which DWBs are meant to provide support is that in which one spouse is the main breadwinner and dies early in life, leaving his or her older widow or widower unable to work.

Eligibility for DWBs

In order to prevent financial hardship for such a disabled surviving spouse, DWBs are available when these criteria are met:
-The deceased spouse had a substantial enough work history that he or she would have been financially eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
-The widow or widower is between 50 and 60 years old.
-The widow or widower has a medical condition that meets the definition of "disability" under Social Security law.
-The disabling condition began before or within seven years of the deceased spouse's death or of the widow or widower having cared for the deceased worker's child while the child was receiving survivor's benefits.
-If the disabled widow or widower remarried, to remain eligible the remarriage must have been after age 50 and he or she must have been already disabled when he or she remarried -- in other words, the eligibility was already there at remarriage.

Disabled surviving divorced spouses

Many surviving divorced spouses who are disabled are also eligible for DWBs so long as the marriages lasted at least 10 years and all other eligibility criteria are met.

Definition of disability

Social Security has its own definition of disability that must be met to qualify for disabled widows' or widowers' benefits (or Social Security Disability). In basic terms, to be disabled under the Social Security Act, a claimant must have a severe medical impairment or combination of impairments expected to last at least one year and/or result in death that prevents the applicant from working.

Legal advice important

Any disabled widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse who may be eligible for DWBs should contact an experienced Social Security attorney to understand the complex eligibility rules and for assistance with applying or with appealing a denial or termination of DWB benefits.

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