If your spouse is getting Social Security disability benefits, you may also be entitled to receive benefits from Social Security. These benefits are called “auxiliary benefits.”
It is important to remember that auxiliary benefits are only available if the disabled spouse (disabled husband or disabled wife) is receiving Disability Insurance benefits. There are no auxiliary benefits when the disable spouse is receiving Social Security Title 16 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Am I entitled to Social Security auxiliary benefits?
In a nutshell, spouses have to be either:
1) 62 or older, or
2) have a child in their care who is either
a) under the age of 16, or
Let’s look at the regulations. You are entitled to benefits as the wife or husband of an insured person who is entitled to old-age or disability benefits if you meet the criteria listing in 20 CFR 404.330:
(a) You are the insured’s wife or husband based upon a relationship described in §§404.345 through 404.346 and one of the following conditions is met:
(1) Your relationship to the insured as a wife or husband has lasted at least 1 year. (You will be considered to meet the 1-year duration requirement throughout the month in which the first anniversary of the marriage occurs.)
(2) You and the insured are the natural parents of a child; or
(3) In the month before you married the insured you were entitled to, or if you had applied and been old enough you could have been entitled to, any of these benefits or payments: Wife’s, husband’s, widow’s, widower’s, or parent’s benefits; disabled child’s benefits; or annuity payments under the Railroad Retirement Act for widows, widowers, parents, or children 18 years old or older;
(b) You apply;
(c) You are age 62 or older throughout a month and you meet all other conditions of entitlement, or you are the insured’s wife or husband and have in your care (as defined in §§404.348 through 404.349), throughout a month in which all other conditions of entitlement are met, a child who is entitled to child’s benefits on the insured’s earnings record and the child is either under age 16 or disabled; and
(d) You are not entitled to an old-age or disability benefit based upon a primary insurance amount that is equal to or larger than the full wife’s or husband’s benefit.
I know, it is all very legalistic. Fortunately, Social Security has a much better summary in the “What Every Woman Should Know” FAQ.
If you have not worked or do not have enough Social Security credits and you are married, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits as a result of your husband’s work. You and your children (younger than age 18 or younger than age 19 if still in secondary school or disabled before age 22) have Social Security protection through your husband’s work. When he retires, or if he becomes disabled, you could be eligible for benefits as early as age 62. If you are caring for your child who is younger than age 16 or disabled and entitled to benefits, you could receive benefits at any age.
Spouses of a disabled individual Auxiliary benefits are normally processed automatically along with the spouse’s disability benefits. But, if for some reason they were not, it may be a good idea to contact Social Security to see if you qualify.