Can I Receive SSDI Benefits?

Aug 13 2019 - 4:50pm

My husband died 16 years ago and I received survivor benefits. My youngest son will be turning 18 next year. I am 47 and the last benefits I received were in May of 2018. Last year I had surgery on my foot that has left my foot and leg with severe nerve, vascular and muscle damage. I have not worked and received a paycheck since 2003 but before that I worked as a Registered Nurse. My full time work was caring for our children after my husband died.
Can I receive SSDI since I have not worked outside the house over the last many years or do I have to wait and file for Disabled Widows Benefits at 50 since I will still be within the 7 year period?

Hi,

It doesn't sound like you could qualify for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits because in order to qualify for SSDI benefits you must meet the insured status requirement (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html#anchor1). To meet that requirement you would need to have earned at least 20 quarters of Social Security coverage within the 10 year period ending with the onset of your disability. In other words, if you count back 10 years from when your disability started, you would need to have worked and paid into Social Security for the equivalent of 5 of those 10 years.

If you last worked and contributed to Social Security in 2003, then the latest that you could have become disabled and still potentially qualify for SSDI benefits is in 2008. As you noted, the earliest that you could potentially qualify for Disabled Widow's Benefits (DWB) is age 50. It sounds like you would meet at least the non-medical requirements for DWB, because the 7 year prescribed period that you mention does not begin until the later of a) your spouse's date of death, or b) the month that your entitlement to child in care mother's benefits ended (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.05/handbook-0513.html). So, if you were entitled to child in care mother's benefits until May of 2018, then you could become disabled as late as around May 2025 and still potentially qualify for DWB once you reach age 50.

You don't mention your financial situation, but Social Security does administer a needs based benefit called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There is no insured status requirement for SSI, but in addition to being either disabled, blind or at least age 65, a person must have very limited income and resources in order to qualify for SSI. If you want to check to see if you might qualify for SSI you can use the screening tool on the following website: https://ssabest.benefits.gov/.

Best, Jerry