Cindy Speaker: Good afternoon, and welcome to our broadcast today. My name is Cindy Speaker. I have with me as my guest attorney Winslow Butts, a Social Security Disability attorney with Gardberg & Kemmerly.
Winslow, thanks for being with us.
Winslow Butts: Thank you for having me. It’s good to be here.
Cindy Speaker: Well, I’m looking forward to talking to you. You handle Social Security. I know you help a lot of people that have disability, they’re trying to get benefits, and today we’re going to talk about a specific aspect of that, the Widow’s Disability Benefits. What is a Disabled Widow’s Benefit?
Winslow Butts: A Widow’s Disability Benefit is usually for people that, if they have not worked, but they’ve had a spouse that has recently passed away, they can draw off of their spouse’s work record as opposed to their work record. It’s good especially if a spouse was making more than the person that is disabled, they are able to draw off of that spouse’s earnings record.
Cindy Speaker: Okay … yeah. Go ahead.
Winslow Butts: I was going to say that in order to have a Widow’s Disability claim, the widow has to be at least 50, but not yet 60. The spouse has to pass away within the last seven years. The spouse has to have worked, and has to have paid into Social Security.
They also … their earnings record can’t be higher than the deceased spouse’s record. Whichever … the deceased spouse has to have made more than the disabled person. They also have to be disabled, is the main thing.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. Is this common knowledge? I suspect it’s not. That these benefits are available.
Winslow Butts: It’s not. A lot of people know about Survivor’s Benefits, where if you’ve turned 60 you can draw for your deceased spouse, but a lot of people do not know that if you are between the ages of 50 and 60 and you are disabled, then you can draw off of your deceased spouse, as well, as long as the spouse has died within the last seven years.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. No, that’s really good to know. Now let me ask you this: if the survivor is over 60, any recourse?
Winslow Butts: No. Not … They could get the Survivor’s Benefits, which … The one thing that’s good about that is that if you are over 60, you don’t have to prove that you have a disability. You only have to prove that you were married to the deceased worker, and that you were married within the last nine months. You have to be married for at least nine months.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. Okay. Can they collect both the disability benefit and the benefit of the deceased spouse at the same time?
Winslow Butts: No, they cannot collect both theirs and the deceased spouse. It’s whichever one is higher. So if the deceased spouse is higher, you would collect that one. If yours is higher, you would collect yours.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. Let me ask you this: how often do you have this benefit … do people come with you and say, “I want to know about this benefit,” or how is it that you’re able to get the word out to individuals that they may be eligible for this benefit? How do you get that word out?
Winslow Butts: Yeah, a lot of people come to us, and they’re just trying to get their disability benefits based off their own earnings record, so we let them know that if they have recently had a spouse that’s died, they should try and apply with Social Security to see if they do have a Disabled Widow’s claim. That way, they could potentially have a higher benefit, just depending on how much the spouse was making.
Cindy Speaker: Right. Well, and-
Winslow Butts: Which is a good alternative.
Cindy Speaker: It is a good alternative, and it’s another reason why, if you’re watching this today … You know somebody, share this to their page, if you would, because what I’ve found a lot in interviewing attorneys, a lot of times there’s benefits out there that exist, but the average person is not aware of them. I know many of the things that you guys introduce me to, I’m not aware of these benefits, so I don’t think they’re common knowledge. It’s important to try and get more awareness out for some of these benefits.
The other thing I always like to say is, with Social Security Disability, and these types of disability benefits, I think there’s a certain stigma sometimes attached to them. There’s no need for anybody to feel bad about applying for these benefits. This is almost like an insurance policy that you or your spouse paid into all their lives. Can you comment on that at all?
Winslow Butts: Exactly. A lot of people, they don’t want to because of the stigma, but we like to think that it’s money that you have paid into Social Security, or your spouse has paid in, so it’s money that’s owed to you if you meet Social Security’s qualifications. I would encourage people, if they think they qualify for a benefit, to contact us and ask us if there is an additional benefit that they’re not getting that they could potentially be receiving.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that. Well, Winslow, what’s the best way to reach out to you or someone in your office?
Winslow Butts: You can reach us at GardbergLaw.com, or you can call us as 251-343-1111.
Cindy Speaker: Very good. Hey, this is great information today. Thanks for being with us.
Winslow Butts: Thank you. It was good to be here. Thank you for having me.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. Well, those of you that are watching, either live, or by replay, if you have questions, comments, you can put them right on this page. We’ll answer them for you. As I said, if you know someone that may qualify for this type of benefits, send them a link, or share it to their page. It’s important to get the word out. We want people to get the benefits that they deserve, because it’s tough. It’s tough out there, and these benefits are things you’re entitled to. Thanks everybody for being with us. Bye now.