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What Are Widow Benefits?

April 8, 2020

If you are a widow, your marriage lasted for at least 10 years, and your spouse is eligible to receive Social Security, you may receive survivor benefits at the age of 60. If you choose to remarry after you reach age 60, 50 if you're disabled, it will not affect your eligibility to receive survivor benefits.

You may be able to begin receiving benefits as early as age 50, if you are disabled. The disability must have begun prior to or within 7 years of your spouse's death.

If you are 62 and qualify for retirement benefits you may be able to shift this to your own retirement benefit death.

The eligible spouse must apply for survivor benefits within two years of the date of death of their spouse.

To receive your benefits, you'll need to contact the Social Security office in your area 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), for the nearest office. You cannot apply for these benefits over the phone or online. For benefits you actually have to go in and speak with a representative.

Ask the representative the items you need to bring. Some items you will and also may need to bring are:

(1) A death certificate or funeral home notice (2) Most recent tax forms (3) Your Social Security Number (4) Your spouse's Social Security Number or (5) Birth Certificate of your spouse.

However, when my mother passed away and I took my dad into the office, the only items asked for were the (1) Social Security Cards and (2) the Death Certificate.

There will be a one-time payment in full of $255 paid to you the surviving spouse, if you were living with the deceased spouse at the time of their death.

The amount of benefit you receive is based on your spouse's earnings amount and how much they paid into the Social Security system. The monthly amount awarded is a percentage of the basic Social Security benefit, depending on your age, the benefit type and how much they paid into the system.

Also, if you receive a monthly pension on employment not covered by Social Security your survivor benefits may be affected.

This discussion is not exhaustive and the Social Security representative may have other pertinent information for you as it affects your case individually.

This blog is intended for information purposes only and does not establish legal representation or financial guidance.