Life is unpredictable. When death strikes unexpectedly, everything changes.
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help. Survivors, such as widows, may be eligible to receive substantial financial assistance through monthly benefits. However, the widow’s deceased spouse must have earned a sufficient number of work credits through Social Security.
Widows may also be eligible for survivors’ benefits after turning 60, depending on the earnings record of the spouse. However, if you are a surviving spouse and disabled, you may be able to obtain these benefits earlier. To become eligible for social security benefits, the deceased spouse must have worked enough years and gathered enough credits through paying taxes into the system.
Social Security Widow Benefits
There are a number of conditions which must be satisfied before a surviving spouse may be deemed eligible to receive social security survivor benefits. Firstly, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess the work history of the widow’s deceased spouse.
When the deceased spouse was working, that spouse must have accrued a certain number of work credits. Workers can receive up to four credits annually. No worker is required to exceed 40 credits, or 10 years of work, for benefit eligibility.
The number of credits required to receive benefits varies. This requirement is based on the age at which the worker dies. Younger workers need fewer credits for a surviving spouse to receive benefits. The SSA will evaluate each individual on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they qualify.
You may be entitled to benefits based on your spouse’s work history if;
You are already disabled and more than 50 years old.
Your disability develops soon after seven years (the prescribed period) after the death of your spouse
For example, if you start to develop a disability issues after your spouse’s death, but do not turn 50 within the prescribed period, then you may not be entitled to receive social security benefits until you reach age 60. You either have to meet the requirements mentioned in the listings of “Blue Book” or prove that you are not fit to do any work to earn a living. SSA will automatically consider you disabled if:
You can proof no “past relevant work” within the last 15 years
Have no formal schooling after 11th grade
You are suffering from serious/severe impairment
Such conditions should prevent you from hearing, seeing, speaking, sitting, walking, standing, lifting, pushing, pulling, or other relevant work. This can also include an inability to follow/ understand simple instructions.
Assuming the widow’s deceased spouse earned enough under Social Security, certain benefits are available
A widow can receive full survivor benefits at full retirement age or reduced benefits at age 60
Switch to retirement benefits at age 62, provided the widow qualifies for such benefits on her own record
Receive benefits as early as age 50, if the widow is disabled and that disability began before or within seven years of the spouse’s death
Note: Both the deceased worker’s children and widow can receive benefits, even if the worker didn’t accrue enough work credits. If the surviving spouse is caring for the children of the deceased, she may receive benefits. The worker must have accrued 6 work credits (one and a half years) in the three years just prior to death. Widows should contact the SSA for details.
Disabled widows may also receive benefits in ways that non-disabled widows cannot.
Social Security Disability Survivor Benefits for Widow Assistance
The Social Security Disability Administration (SSA) uses the same definition of disability for widows as it does for workers. A widow receiving Social Security benefits and caring for the worker’s children is still eligible for survivor’s benefits.
Disabled Widow Benefits are granted to these widows, as long as the widows’ disabilities start before the Social Security benefits end or within seven years after they end.
Overall, the process for receiving widow benefits can become very confusing. If you have been denied Social Security Disability Benefits, you should seek the legal advice and representation of experienced legal counsel.