Social Security Benefits for Widows

OpinionFront Staff Oct 7, 2018
Under the Social Security survivor programs, widows are eligible for receiving full benefits of Social Security schemes. The only condition is that widows must be eligible for receiving the required benefits. The contents detailed further discusses the same.
Passing away of a husband in a family, especially if he was the major breadwinner, can have severe financial repercussions. The widow is left all alone to handle family finances that can be a daunting task, especially, if the family is in debts. The Social Security Administration (SSA) grants relief to such widows by helping them monetarily.

Eligibility Criteria for Social Security Widow Survivors

If a person who has paid Social Security taxes dies, his family members are eligible for survivor benefits. In the US, as per several reports, around 7.5 million individuals of age 60 and older receive benefits based on a deceased spouse's work record.
Depending on the records of the husband who has passed away, widows are entitled to some monthly payments. Have a look at the eligibility criteria for social security benefits for widows.
  • If the widow is willing to take care of the deceased spouse's child, she can receive the benefits but for that to happen, the child must be a receiver of survivor benefits, must be younger than 16 years or, she or he must have a disability, as described by Social Security laws.
  • Disabled widows can receive benefits as a survivor at the age of 50 under several terms and conditions.
  • If a widow has no children, she will get survivor benefits after completing her full retirement age, that is 66 years (only if she was born between 1945 - 1956).
  • If a widow is divorced when the spouse dies, she can get the benefits but only if they both were married for minimum 10 years before divorce. The case can be different is the widow has remarried.
  • If the divorced widow hasn't remarried and is taking care of the deceased husband's child, there is no restriction on the number of years the couple is needed to have been married.
  • A widow can get survivor benefits at a younger age of 60 years, under special circumstances.

Widow Survivor Benefits and Retirement Benefits: Flexibility to Choose

In case, a widow is eligible for the survivor benefits as well as for her own retirement benefits, she has the flexibility to choose plans depending on her needs. Let us understand this through an example.
If a widow takes her survivor benefits at a relatively younger age of 60, way before her retirement, she has the option to switch to her own retirement benefits at her eligible retirement age of 62, if the benefit would be greater.
If she doesn't want to switch at 62, she can wait till her full retirement age, 66, if that is higher. So if a widow is already receiving social security benefits based on her works, she will only get survivor benefits, if it pays more than the amount she is getting through her own works.

The Amount Received as Benefits

The SSA pays to widows, a certain amount, as a one time death benefit. After the one-time benefit, widows are paid monthly premiums depending on the average lifetime earnings of the deceased spouse. Higher the earning of the deceased person, more will be the survivor benefits.
It is to be noted that at full retirement age, 66, a widow will receive complete benefit of the deceased person's average earnings. In between 60 and the complete retirement age, she will get 71% - 99% of the income. If she has children (under age 18 or disabled-dependent), she will get nearly 75% of the average income of the late husband.
To apply for Social Security benefits for widows, you need to call the Social Security Administration's telephone number at (800) 772-1213. You can ask for complete information regarding the procedure on the phone.
Since the laws and rules are very complex, you must do research on the official website of Social Security benefits. You can request for complete information thereby submitting your email and details.
Widows with hearing problems can call on (800) 325-0778. The federal government is trying to make several changes in Social Security programs to make it more accommodating for older citizens.
Do take the benefit of this government scheme, without fail. Also be prepared with all legal documents and information like - birth and death certificates of the spouse, Social Security numbers, divorce documents (if applicable) and other relevant documents.