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How survivor benefits can be added to disability benefits

Social Security offers a variety benefits programs, including retirement benefits, survivor benefits and disability benefits.

We typically only discuss disability benefits on our blog, but a recent column from Forbes made a good point: Oftentimes, a person may qualify for more than one type of benefits at a time, so it’s important to discuss how the benefits programs can overlap.

For example, the Forbes article discussed a situation in which a disabled person may also be entitled to survivor benefits in addition to disability benefits. The expert writing the article said that survivor benefits can start immediately for a widow or widower who is disabled and age 50 or older.

In this situation, the disabled widow or widower may be eligible to receive his or her standard disability check plus what is called an excess survivor benefit. If the widow or widower's expected survivor benefit is larger than his or her disability benefit, the difference of the two would be added to the monthly disability benefit.

The Social Security Administration determines the amount of survivor benefits according to what the deceased spouse was earning or entitled to earn in Social Security retirement benefits at the time of his or her death.

However, the Forbes columnist said it may be wise for the widow or widower to withdraw his or her automatic application for retirement benefits once reaching retirement age so that his or her retirement benefit can grow significantly while the excess survivor benefit becomes a full survivor benefit.

An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can provide you with even more information about how disability benefits are affected by other SSA programs such as retirement and survivor benefits.

For information on how workers' compensation benefits can be affected by other programs, see our past post here. 

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