General Questions, Guest Bloggers, Survivors, Uncategorized

Survivor Benefits: Four Tips Widows Need to Know

May 27, 2022 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: May 27, 2022

Photo of Cindy HounsellMonths before the first Social Security check was issued in 1940, lawmakers made changes to the planned benefits. Instead of the retired worker’s benefit ending when he died, his widow could collect a survivor benefit for her lifetime. Since then, the eligibility rules for survivors have improved. The age requirements are lower, surviving ex-spouses are eligible, including surviving spouses and partners of same-sex relationships.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that the surviving spouse is often unsure how to start claiming their survivor’s benefits. We have some information to assist you in applying for benefits as a surviving spouse.

If you are a widow (or your ex-spouse died), you may be eligible to receive benefits on your late spouse’s, or ex-spouse’s, Social Security record. How much you receive will depend on your age, the amount of benefits you may receive on your own record, and whether you have dependent children.

You may be entitled to receive a survivor’s benefit under the following circumstances:

  • At age 50 if you have a disability.
  • At age 60 (the benefit amount will be reduced).
  • At any age if you have a child under your care who is under age 16 or who became disabled before age 22.
  • If you were widowed and remarried after age 60.

If you’re entitled to retirement benefits – but haven’t applied yet – you have an option. You can decide to apply for either the retirement or survivors benefits first. You can switch to the other (higher) benefit later.

To help make this decision, it’s important to know your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA is when you can start receiving your full retirement benefit amount. For instance, if you were born between January 2, 1943 through January 1, 1955, your FRA is 66. If you start receiving benefits before your FRA, your benefits will be reduced, generally for as long as you continue to receive benefits.

There are many variables involved. Contact Social Security to discuss which benefit to take first – before applying for either benefit. You want to be sure you’re choosing the option that best fits your financial circumstances.

All the information you need is on the Social Security website. You must apply for survivors benefits over the phone or make an appointment to apply in person. You will also need to provide certain original documents.

Local Social Security offices are helping people in person with or without an appointment. This means staff will take applications in person and they will be available to help and answer any question you may have. I encourage you to call and schedule an appointment in advance to save time and so you have all the documents we need to help you in one visit. Please share this information with your friends and family – and post it on social media.

Our posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages.

 


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  1. Maren

    My ex husband is still alive after 22 years of marriage. He get a disability check and so do I. We are both 61. When can I start drawing on his ss disability?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Maren. Thanks for your question. To be eligible for divorced spouse benefits, you had to be married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, you must be age 62 or older, and you cannot be eligible for a higher benefit on your own record. For more information on how to qualify for divorced spouse benefits, visit our Benefits Planner. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  2. Connie B.

    I know N ew nothing Bout survived benefit…..what does UT mean?…..How much? Is it a %age of His monthly amt?
    They owed me 2weeks of his pay that I Never saw.
    Is the benefit “one specific amt one time?” Or a specific amt Monthly added to my amt?
    Where are these rules??

    Reply
    • Monica K.

      Hello Ms. Connie, my mother just went through the same you are. And if it had not been for a friend telling her about these funds I don’t know what she would have done. But of course as bad of shape she has been in I have been the one doing everything and I do mean everything for her since my stepdad passed away the last of January. You need to call SS office and explain what you are needing to do. If you are drawing a check it will make the whole process easy, they set up a date and time for my mom to bring her original copy of their marriage license and a original copy of his death certificate. Our office is still not allowing the public in the building but the guard is standing at the front door and knows who is suppose to be there at what time for what. So when my mom arrived he asked for her copies took them to the case worker they made copies of them and brought the originals right back to my mom. That was it, and it took them about 2 weeks to work up the case. Which that seemed like for ever, because his check didn’t come in January when it should have because he got paid the third We’d. of the month and he did not pass away until the 24th. Mom only gets little bit over $700 a month and he was getting over $1700 a month. So she went Jan., Feb. & half of March before receiving any money from them. And I am really not quite sure how they figure out how much money you get from his check and how much from your check because my mom is getting little over $1600. Which is great, it pays her bills and thank goodness she was able to pay off their home and property last October before he passed away. But it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me when some women get all of their husbands check along with all of theirs if they both were full retirement age. And the were he actually started on disability but was 78 when he passed and my mom retired at 68 and just turned 72. But I guess it is what it is.
      But I hope this was some help for you dear. And you are also able to apply and receive food stamps as well, believe me honey I am 47 separted and disabled and only get $949 a month, and thank God for that COLA raise we were able to get this year, every little bit helps.
      Good Luck 🤞

      Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Connie. Thanks for visiting our blog. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  3. Sabrina F.

    my husband passed last nov. from covid, i am a disabled widow and still waiting for benefits. I survive on 950 a month ssd , i am in dire need of his benefits. the beginning of each month is stress. bills due rent due . we are all struggling with finances. but could anyone imagine how it feels to live on 950. a month. no dining out, no ride in car, nothing to live on after rent. ss needs to really step up the process. americans are suffering. application keeps changing from 7 months to 8 months. I need what my husband paid into his ss. to wait this long is torture. the loss of my husband was bad enough but to continually having to wait for financial help is affecting my mental health for sure. please please step up the process.

    Reply
    • Sharon

      If you are 60yrspr older you should not have to wait .I received a month and half payment.it only took 3 days to get money deposited

      Reply
      • Denise B.

        Amen To God be the Glory
        Since I’m disabled and over 50! He passed February 27! We were divorced. 17 years divorced. I’m having a second interview this June on telephone. I will receive benefits as quick as you did. He was 61 in July he would have been 62. He died of Covid. I’m grateful to receive this gift!
        I surely hope the other lady gets her very quick. Blessings

        Reply
    • Denise B.

      My Ex husband just passed away in February 27 of COVID. He was 61! I’m disabled since 2010! And Was married 22 years. And I’ve been divorced for more than 17 years. I didn’t even know about ex spouses social security benefits! I have another telephone interview coming up! Paperwork was sent- it’s like the same one I received in 2010-as if I’m applying again. It’s very extensive! I’m so grateful for SS benefits. I get SSD which doesn’t come close to help with rents& extra! I pray and know benefits will began immediately after phone interview! Amen

      Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Sabrina. We are sorry to hear about your loss and your situation. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions or case concerns. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  4. Katen T.

    My father passed away last month (age 82) and my Mom (age 79) called to set up an appointment so she could apply for survivor benefits. The person on the phone said they are no longer doing appointments and asked my Mom for both my Dad’s and her SSNs, dates of birth, date of marriage and then told my Mom that someone would call her in July to give her an appointment. That doesn’t sound right to me. Should I be concerned that my Mom called the wring number and gave all of that info to a scammer?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Katen. Thanks for visiting our blog. Your mother can contact her local Social Security office to verify. Keep in mind most local offices have resumed in-person service for people without an appointment. Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays. Visit How to Get Help from Social Security to learn more, including what to know if you need to visit an office. We hope this helps. 

      Reply
  5. Marta

    To help make this decision, it’s important to know your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA is when you can start receiving the full retirement benefit amount.

    Cut and paste the link below to go to social security website to calculate your full retirement age.

    https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/agereduction.html

    Reply
    • Connie B.

      I see no marks or my questiond…questions…. why
      Why no answers? I hVe no way to survive wo my husband, & his ck……no one cares….after ins I have no money for food.
      Want to know the rules

      Reply
  6. Sachin P.

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    Reply
  7. Joseph D.

    I was wondering if a local finance company can somehow garnish my S/S Disability funds which I have been receiving for apprx. 5 years?. These funds are my only income and I had to borrow funds due to being relocated due to the sale of my current residence. Any assistance would be appreciated.
    Sincerely, Joseph DiGiovanni.

    Reply
    • Connie

      No ans?
      If you take a loan you must pay at it back.
      If you don’t they will send collection lawyers to get it. It takes your credit numbers down.
      If you don’t answer their l enters they will pas it to an I ther company. Itcwill stay on file fir 7yrs. Whether you pay or not. So don’t talk & don’t pay & it will disappear. If you talk you are admitting guilt. They won’t take you to court cause you have no money. Judge says no money means no money. Just pay if you can.
      I am answering zjoseph because Your answer has Nothing to do with his question just as mine d I d n o t

      Reply
  8. Vicki J.

    Can you verify my Survivor Benefit amount? I have already had a scheduled phone call and was told that I would receive survivor benefits and was told an amount but I want to verify that amount.

    Reply
  9. Vicki J.

    Can you verify my survivor payment amount?

    Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Vicki. Thanks for visiting our blog. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  10. Marcie O.

    How old do I need to be, to collect my deceased husbands full Social Security, he started drawing when he was 62.

    Reply
    • Marta

      To help make this decision, it’s important to know your Full Retirement Age (FRA). Your FRA is when you can start receiving the full retirement benefit amount.

      Cut and paste the link below to go to social security website to calculate your full retirement age.

      https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/agereduction.html

      Reply
    • Marta

      You may be entitled to receive a survivor’s benefit under the following circumstances:

      At age 50 if you have a disability.
      At age 60 (the benefit amount will be reduced).
      At any age if you have a child under your care who is under age 16 or who became disabled before age 22.
      If you were widowed and remarried after age 60.

      Reply
    • Ann C.

      Hi, Marcie. Thanks for your question. To receive 100% of your deceased husband’s benefit, you have to be full retirement age or older. For more information, plesae visit our If You Are The Survivor page. We hope this helps. 

      Reply

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