Families in Pennsylvania are made up of all sorts of arrangements. Often, more than one family member must work to support the family. If a family member is disabled, it can be difficult or impossible for the family to earn the income it needs to survive. Social Security disability benefits may be available if the disabled family member qualifies. These benefits can be the only source of income in some situations.
However, there are also cases where one family member has stayed home during a marriage. This person may not have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security retirement or disability benefits on his or her own. In these situations, the Social Security Administration allows the stay-at-home spouse to collect benefits based on the credits of the working spouse. This arrangement can help provide widows and widowers with retirement income even when they did not work outside the home. The arrangement can also help support ex-spouses after a marriage ends in divorce.
There are a number of requirements for this type of arrangement. Among them: The marriage must have lasted at least 10 years; the ex-spouse must be unmarried and age 62 or older; and the ex-spouse’s work credits must be lower than the other spouse’s.
There are a number of other requirements and special considerations, depending upon the specific circumstances of the individuals involved. It’s important to note that when an ex-spouse collects these benefits, it has no effect on the other ex-spouse’s benefits.
It’s frightening for many people to contemplate becoming disabled. It is fortunate that Social Security disability benefits are available for many people who are forced into this difficult situation. However, the process of applying for these benefits can be difficult and full of potential setbacks. Experienced attorneys can help the disabled and their family members to navigate the system and fight for their rights.
Source: Forbes, “Social Security: Can You Claim Benefits If You’re Divorced?” John Wasik, June 29, 2015