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Can I receive SSDI auxiliary benefits for my Multiple Sclerosis?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I am married to a man who is disabled and is currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I am also disabled with Multiple Sclerosis and unable to work, but I do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. I am wondering if I might qualify for some type of benefit because my spouse is receiving benefits? I think it might be called SSDI auxiliary benefits?”


What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is awarded to workers who are disabled with a severe mental or physical health condition, who have earned sufficient work credits and who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. Clearly the SSA has determined your spouse is disabled and meets all the other criteria for SSDI benefits. So let’s take closer look at your options. The good news is the SSA does allow certain dependents of those receiving SSDI benefits to receive what the SSA calls SSDI auxiliary benefits under specific conditions. Spouses, for instance, may qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits if they have been married for at least a year to someone who is currently receiving SSDI benefits, they are 62 years of age or older, or they are caring for a child who is under the age of 16 or who is disabled and who is eligible for dependent benefits. It’s important to note, however, that if you are 62 years of age or older, when you become eligible for your own Social Security benefit if this benefit is higher than the SSDI auxiliary benefit, you may lose your disability benefits. Also, you could be penalized if you work while receiving auxiliary benefits or have your benefits reduced if you collect retirement benefits prior to your full retirement age.

What if I am no longer married to my husband?

Now, you did not ask this question, but it’s important to note that you could be eligible for SSDI auxiliary benefits even if you are no longer married to your spouse. You will, however, have to have been married to your ex-disabled spouse for at least 10 years, you cannot be married to another person, you are at least be 62 years or older, and your ex-spouse must be eligible for SSDI benefits. It’s also important to note that if you are eligible for retirement benefits based on your own work record that you will only receive SSDI auxiliary benefits if it is more than your retirement benefit. What if my spouse is dead? You also did not specifically ask this question, but you might also be eligible for auxiliary benefits if your spouse is deceased and at the time of his death he either had sufficient work credits to be considered insured for SSDI or he was receiving SSDI at the time of his death. Additionally, you must also be at least 60 years old or you must be disabled and be at least 50 years of age or be a young widow with a child who is disabled and in your care or under the age of 16 and not disabled. Bottom line: If you have multiple sclerosis you may be eligible for SSDI auxiliary benefits if your spouse is currently receiving SSDI benefits and you 62 years of age or caring for a child who is disabled or under the age of 16. Recent blog: Brain tumor, SSI, and Special Needs Trust