Social Security Widow Survivor Benefits

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After the passing of a family wage earner, the surviving spouse is eligible for Social Security survivor benefits. A widow must meet specific requirements to receive payments.

Widow With Children

A widow can collect benefits when she cares for the deceased spouse’s child. The child must be receiving survivor benefits or disabled for the spouse to be eligible.

Widow Without Children

A widow is qualified for full retirement benefits at the age of 66 if she was born between 1945 and 1956. If she was born after 1962, the benefits are available at age 67. A widow in need of benefits sooner can receive a reduced amount beginning at the age of 60.

Disabled Widow

If a widow is disabled, she can begin collecting survivor benefits at the age of 50.

Divorced Widow

If a divorced couple was married at least 10 years, a former spouse can obtain survivor benefits at the age of 60. There is no minimum on the number of years a couple is required to have been married if the former spouse is caring for the deceased’s children.


The deceased worker’s earnings determine the amount a widow collects in each payment. A widow at full retirement age receives 100 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. When she is between the age of 60 and full retirement age, the amount is 71 percent to 99 percent of the full amount and if she has children, she receives 75 percent.


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