Here’s a question from one of our readers: “I’m widowed — my husband passed away in May. He was totally disabled and on SSDI. Since we were married more than 10 years when he passed away, shouldn’t I be able to receive money each month off his Social Security benefits? I’m 57 now.” We’ll answer her question below.
Can Widows and Widowers Keep Getting a Deceased Spouse’s Disability Benefits?
Unfortunately, based on age alone, you would not be eligible for your husband’s benefits. That’s because Social Security survivors’ benefits are automatically available to widowed spouses who are 62 and older.
However, there are other instances in which you could qualify earlier:
- Survivors who are 50 and older with a disability that started before or within 7 years of their spouse’s passing
- If you take care of the deceased’s child who is younger than 16 or has a disability and receives child’s benefits
Without specifics about your health and whether or not you have children, we can’t say for sure if you’re eligible. Talk to a qualified disability lawyer to find out.
Disability Benefits for Widowed People
- Widow or widower already at least full retirement age (66) — 100% of the deceased’s benefit amount
- Widow or widower, age 62-66 — 71.5% to 99% of the deceased’s benefit amount
- Widow or widower with a disability age 50 to 59 — 71.5%
- Widow or widower of any age caring for a child under age 16 — 75%
How to Apply for Survivor’s Disability Benefits
Widowed spouses can’t apply for survivor’s benefits online. Schedule an appointment with the Social Security Administration by calling 800-772-1213 (TTY: 800-325-0778). You also can work with a disability attorney to ease the burden on you and your family.
Whether you work with a lawyer or do it yourself, you need the following information:
- Death certificate or proof of death from a funeral home
- Your Social Security number as well as the deceased’s SSN
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate
- Deceased worker’s W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year
- Dependent children’s Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates
- The name of your bank and your account number so the SSA can deposit your benefits directly into your account
It’s important to find out if you’re eligible as soon as possible since some benefits may be payable only after you have requested them.
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.