You probably know people who are receiving Social Security survivors benefits because they're a widow or widower. At present, there are about 5 million widows and widowers receiving monthly Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse's earnings record. And, for many of those survivors, particularly aged women, those benefits are keeping them out of poverty.

  • Your widow or widower can receive:

    • reduced benefits as early as age 60 or full benefits at full retirement age or older.

    • benefits as early as age 50 if he or she is disabled AND their disability started before or within seven years of your death.

      Note: If a widow or widower who is caring for your 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.

      Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If they want to apply for disability benefits on your record, they should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment. (If they are deaf or hard of hearing, they should call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.)

      They can speed up the application process if they complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of their appointment.

      We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.

    If your widow or widower remarries after they reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), the remarriage will not affect their eligibility for survivors benefits.

  • Your widow or widower who has not remarried can receive survivors benefits at any age if she or he takes care of your child who is under age 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on your record.

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