When a person is the surviving spouse of someone who was receiving Social Security Disability payments, the surviving spouse may be eligible for survivor benefits. However, such an individual has a limited time period in which to file for the survivor benefits for which he or she may qualify.
A surviving spouse must apply for Social Security Disability payments within seven years of the recipient spouse’s death. If the surviving spouse does not file the application within this seven-year term, he or she will be ineligible for payments. This is the prescribed term – or the time frame during which the surviving spouse may claim for survivor benefits.
It is critical to understand that simply submitting an application for survivor’s benefits within the statutory time limit does not guarantee that the applicant will automatically qualify for survivor’s benefits. To be eligible for benefits, the applicant must also be at least 60 years old (or will turn 60 within seven years after the spouse’s death). This regulation does not apply if the surviving spouse is also disabled. The age requirement is then dropped to 50 years.
The seven-year period begins precisely on the date of the disability beneficiary’s death. If a surviving spouse wishes to qualify for survivor’s benefits, they must file their application within the specified seven-year term.