Has something happened to your husband or wife, something that caused them to pass away? If so, as a disabled widow or widower or surviving divorced spouse, you may be able to collect Social Security benefits if you meet the following conditions:
- You are between the ages of 50 and 60.
- Your condition meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of a disability.
- Your disability started before your spouse’s death, or within seven years of his or her death.
Note: If you are a widow or widower and you are caring for a worker’s children and you end up receiving Social Security benefits, you are still eligible for widow’s or widower’s benefits if your disability started before the disability payments end, or within seven years after the Social Security payments end.
Considering Your Options
If you have a family, you have probably thought about what would happen to them if you die, and how they would be protected. Perhaps you have written a will that addresses guardianship for minor children, and put your spouse’s name on all of your beneficiary designations for bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc.
Just as you think about your family’s well-being if you die, you should also think about which Social Security benefits may be available to you if something happens to your spouse and you are a survivor of a worker who dies. Your husband or wife, however, must have worked long enough for them to qualify for Social Security benefits.
For example, if your deceased spouse was a homemaker and hadn’t worked at all, or in a long time, they may not qualify for Social Security benefits. Likewise, if they had been gainfully employed for many years, there is a very good chance that they qualify for benefits, which as the surviving spouse, you may be entitled to.
Here’s something else you should know: “Benefits can be paid to the worker’s children and the surviving spouse who is caring for the children even if the worker doesn’t have the required number of credits. They can get benefits if the worker has credit for one and one-half years of work (6 credits) in the three years just before their death. Each person’s situation is different and you need to talk to a Social Security claims representative about your choices,” according to www.ssa.gov.