Losing a spouse is a traumatic and disorienting experience. The person you’ve counted on for years for emotional, and possibly financial, support is no longer with you. If you are stricken with a disability, the situation is even worse. It’s frightening to imagine that you might have to support yourself alone under these daunting circumstances.
Fortunately, help may be available. Under federal law, you may be eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits that you can claim on your spouse’s work record. You may qualify for these benefits even if you have not worked enough quarters yourself to qualify for disability.
If you are the widow or widower of a veteran, you may be eligible for assistance with your property tax. Keep reading below to find out more.
SSD for Survivors – What Are Your Rights?
Because many families depend on one person to earn all or most of the household income, federal Social Security law recognizes that you may have depended on your spouse’s income to survive. The death of your spouse can have a significant impact on your ability to maintain your household, particularly if you suffer from a disability.
In order to qualify for this benefit, known as Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s Benefits (DWB), you must meet certain qualifications:
- Your spouse must have paid enough into the Social Security system to be eligible for his or her own disability had he or she survived
- You must demonstrate that you have a condition or conditions that meet the criteria for disability for adults
- You must be between the ages of 50 and 60
- You may receive benefits at any age if you are taking care of a minor child who is under the age of 16 belonging to the deceased
- Your disability must have occurred before your spouse’s death or within seven years after your spouse’s death
Are you not sure if you qualify for DWB benefits? Do you believe you have been unjustly denied these benefits by the Social Security Administration? If you have a disability and are a widow or widower, you may be qualified to receive benefits. Please schedule an appointment to discuss your case with one of our attorneys. Your first consultation is free.
Widows and Widowers of Veterans
If you have lost a spouse who served in the Armed Services, you may be eligible for another kind of assistance. The Washington State Department of Revenue offers Property Tax Assistance for Widows and Widowers of Veterans as a grant program. This grant is not a loan; it does not need to be repaid unless you move out of your home before December 15 of the year in which you received the grant.
The Property Tax Assistance Program for Widows or Widowers of Veterans may be available to you if you are a senior citizen or disabled widow or widower of a veteran and you reside primarily in the State of Washington. Your spouse’s veteran status at the time of his or her death, along with your age, household income, and disability, if any, will determine whether you are eligible for this program. If you are eligible, the program will pay all or a portion of your regular property taxes plus excess levies that are due on your property.
To qualify for the grant program, you must meet certain criteria in each of these four categories:
- You must be at least 62 years of age in the year that you apply or qualify as a disabled person.
- You must not have remarried or become part of a registered domestic partnership. Further, your deceased veteran spouse must meet one of these qualifications:
- Was 100 percent disabled as determined by the Veterans Administration for 10 years before his or her death
- Died due to a disability connected to service
- Died in active duty or active training
- Was a former prisoner of war who was 100 percent disabled for at least one year before his or her death
- You must own the home in Washington State for which you are requesting this benefit and you must occupy it at least six months out of the year.
- Your annual combined disposable income must not be greater than $40,000.
Are you the widow or widower of a veteran and you are not sure if you qualify for this benefit? Do you think you have been wrongfully denied your property tax benefit? Please call to schedule an appointment, and we will help determine your eligibility and help you get this important grant if you meet all qualifications.
Your first consultation regarding widow’s or widower’s benefits is free.