If you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can:
receive full benefits at full retirement age for survivors or reduced benefits as early as age 60.
begin receiving benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled AND the disability started before or within seven years of the worker's death.
Note: If a widow or widower who is caring for the worker's children receives Social Security benefits, he or she is still eligible if their disability starts before those payments end or within seven years after they end.
A widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If you wish to apply for disability benefits as a survivor, contact Social Security at
1-800-772-1213to request an appointment. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.)
You can speed up the disability application process if you complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.
We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.
receive survivors benefits at any age if you take care of the deceased worker's child who is under age 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on the worker's record.
If you remarry after you reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), your remarriage will not affect your eligibility for survivors benefits.
already receive benefits as a spouse, your benefit will automatically convert to survivors benefits after we receive the report of death.
are also eligible for retirement benefits (but haven't applied yet), you have an additional option. You can apply for retirement or survivors benefits now and switch to the other (higher) benefit at a later date.
already receive retirement benefits, you can only apply for benefits as a widow or widower if the retirement benefit you receive is less than the benefits you would receive as a survivor.Note: If you became entitled to retirement benefits less than 12 months ago, you may be able to withdraw your retirement application and apply for survivors benefits only. If you do that, you can reapply for the retirement benefits at a later date when they will be higher.
Each person’s situation is different and you need to talk to a Social Security claims representative about your choices.
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