Can Both Spouses Collect SSDI at the Same Time?
Submitting an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be an exhausting process, as the Social Security Administration (SSA) thoroughly vets each and every application for sufficient evidence of total disability. There are a great many nuances that must be addressed in an SSDI application, and retaining the services of an experienced disability benefits attorney can be essential to giving an application the best chance at success. As this article illustrates, individuals today stand a greater chance of becoming disabled than ever before. Consequently, it is important to understand the ins and outs of the SSDI application process, including being prepared for any issue that may arise. One issue that may arise is whether two spouses can receive SSDI benefits simultaneously.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Under rules the SSA follows, which is the agency that examines SSDI benefits applications, the eligibility requirements for an individual to apply for SSDI benefits are:
- The applicant must have a physical or mental condition which prevents him/her from engaging in any “substantial gainful activity;
- The physical or mental condition is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death;
- The applicant is under the age of 65; and
- The applicant has generally accumulated 20 Social Security Credits in the 10 years prior to the onset of the disability (normally four credits per full or partial year), with one additional credit being required for every year in which the applicant’s age exceeds 42
Simultaneous Spousal Benefits
It is important to note that the elements of SSDI eligibility are applied to each applicant separately. Further, there is no eligibility requirement or disqualifier regarding the applicant’s marital status. As a result, there is no prohibition on both spouses collecting SSDI benefits simultaneously. This is primarily because SSDI benefits are means-based (as opposed to other SSA disability benefits programs, which are need-based).
While the third and fourth elements above can be objectively shown, and the second element can be proven by a statement from a medical professional, it becomes clear that the first element becomes the lynchpin on which benefits will be granted. Accordingly, to prove an individual meets this element, each spouse, individually, will need to provide medical evidence which shows that he/she individually meets the criteria under one of the SSA’s impairment listings. Typically, such evidence oftentimes includes:
- The applicant’s medical records;
- Any treatment notes and outcomes by any and all medical professionals treating the applicant;
- Any medical imaging scans and/or laboratory test results; and
- Any other pertinent information affecting the abilities or prognosis of the applicant.
If the applicant does not meet the specific criteria in one of the SSA’s impairment listings, the applicant may nevertheless qualify based on a residual functional capacity assessment. This assessment encompasses a review of the applicant’s medical history, and includes an evaluation by the applicant’s medical professionals (or an SSA physician) to determine the applicant’s ability to work. Assuming the assessment indicates that the applicant cannot perform essential working skills, the chances are great that the applicant will qualify for SSDI benefits. Nevertheless, working with a disability benefits attorney, who knows the ins and outs of the SSDI process, provides the best chance at success.
If you are considering filing, or have recently submitted an application, for SSDI claim, and are curious about your chances of success in light of the fact that your spouse is also receiving SSDI benefits, contact a Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney as soon as possible. The legal team at Farrell Disability Law has years of experience in advising their clients in every aspect of the SSDI benefits process, including the potential of simultaneous benefits for spouses. We are available to review your application and advise you on the likelihood of qualifying for benefits. Contact our Jacksonville office today.