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Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security benefits were developed to protect workers and their families from loss of income due to disability or death. Three types of Social Security benefits are available: retirement, survivors, and disability. Retirement benefits are paid based on age. Survivor benefits are paid to family members of deceased workers. Disability benefits are paid based on a worker’s inability to work for medical reasons.
You are entitled to Social Security benefits one of three ways: If you or your spouse retires; if you are a dependent of someone who becomes disabled or dies; or if you become disabled.
Full retirement benefits begin at age 66, though reduced retirement benefits can be drawn beginning at age 62. Social Security retirement benefits are available to anyone who has worked long enough to meet the eligibility rules. Retirement ages are changing. Call your local Social Security office for more information.
Survivor benefits can be paid to the deceased spouse’s widow as full benefits at age 65 or older or reduced benefits at age 60. A disabled widow or widower can begin getting benefits at ages 50 to 60. A widow can claim benefits at any age if she or he takes care of a child who is under 16 or is disabled and receives benefits. Unmarried children under 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time) also can receive survivor benefits. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
If you have been divorced, your former wife or husband can get benefits under the same circumstances as a widow, if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. However, your former wife or husband must not have remarried. Your former spouse, however, does not have to meet the length-of-marriage rule if she or he is caring for your child who is under 16 or disabled and who also is receiving benefits on your Social Security record. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child. Your local Social Security office can help answer questions about eligibility for survivor benefits.
Disability benefits are paid to disabled workers and in some cases, their dependant children. A form of disability benefits is available