Can Claimant With Sporadic Work History Collect on Working Spouse's Earnings Record?
Posted Feb 11 2009 3:30pm
I regularly get calls from potential clients who apply for Social Security disability, only to discover that they do not have enough credits to pursue a Title II SSDI claim. In such cases, the only other option would be to pursue a Title XVI SSI claim. However, SSI benefits are usually lower ($674 per month for an individual in 2009) and, more importantly, SSI payments are subject to offset if the claimant has a spouse who works.
I see this a lot among self employed people, or salespeople who are paid in cash and do not have money withheld for Social Security taxes. Here is an email I received from the wife of such a claimant:
I have worked and paid into social security since 1965. My husband worked on and off for the past 30 years, but has not regularly paid in to social security. Ten years ago he was diagnosed with MS and he has been unable to work at all. I went to Social Security to ask if I could get disability payments for him and they told me that I earned too much money ($45,000 annually). I am now about to retire at age 60 and would like to collect disability for him. I've gone through web searches and there is such a mire of information - I don't know where to begin. Can he collect against the money I've paid in? He is completely dependent on me.
Jonathan's response: unfortunately I think that you are out of luck. If your husband did not earn enough quarter hours of credit, he is not "insured" for Title II disability. He cannot claim disability based on your earnings record and your earnings will effectively offset any claim he might have for SSI.
You may want to request an earnings and benefit statement ( form 7004 ) to determine if there was every a point where he was insured for Title II disability. If he was insured at one point and you have medical support to argue that he was unable to work at that point in time, he could collect from SSDI.
Often, Social Security representatives will look to see if a potential claimant is currently insured. However, this does not take into account that some people wait two, three, four or more years after "becoming disabled" before they apply. If you know your "date last insured" for Title II and your "onset date" (the date you meet the definition of disability) is prior to your date last insured, you can still collect, even if you are not insured at the time you apply.