Disability Benefits for Wives With Disabled Husbands

by Rod Howell, Demand Media

    A disability can be damaging to a family’s financial health. The Council of Disability Awareness reported more than 62 percent of personal bankruptcies in 2007 were caused by medical problems. If your husband has a long-term or permanent disability and can't work, Social Security has disability benefits if he meets the requirements. As his wife, you can qualify for spousal benefits on his record.

    Social Security Disability Benefits

    Your husband must have earned a certain amount of work credits and paid Social Security taxes to get disability. However, you also have a couple of requirements to meet. You're out if the marriage was less than a year old when he made the claim. You can get spousal benefits immediately if you’re caring for his minor or disabled children. If not, you'll have to wait until you're 62. Also, you can’t get spousal payments if you qualify for higher Social Security benefits on your own work record. Your spousal payments are one-half of his benefit, which is based on his earnings.

    Supplemental Security Income

    Millions of people get checks from SSI each year, which is a needs-based program for low income disabled and elderly individuals. Work history doesn't matter with this one. Your husband qualifies if his medical condition satisfies the program’s definition of disability and his assets don't exceed $3,000. As of 2012, a married couple got $1,048 per month in SSI benefits. Some states sweeten the SSI payments with their own payments. For example, as of 2012, Massachusetts chipped in $180 per month to payments for married disabled couples.

    Government Offset Program

    Naturally, there are some situations where the government won't just pay up. One such case is if you’re drawing a pension from a government job where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes. That will place you in the Government Pension Offset program, which cuts your benefits by two-thirds of your pension. For example, if your pension is $1,200 per month, your monthly spousal benefit is cut by $800.

    Other Disability Benefits

    Spousal benefits can and will be changed if your husband gets disability money from other sources, such as workers compensation or the state. If his total benefits, including Social Security, exceed 80 percent of his pre-disability income, his SSA benefit is reduced dollar for dollar. For instance, he'll lose $300 with a pre-disability income of $3,000 and a total disability benefit of $2,700.

    About the Author

    Rod Howell is a writer living in Charlotte, N.C. He graduated from Thaddeus Stevens College with an associate degree in administration in 2000. He published the book "Capitol Conspiracy" and regularly contributes to a blog as well as various other websites, drawing frequently from his experience as an insurance agent.